By Jessi Gower
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – More than 100 animal rights activists met on the Capitol grounds Jan. 23 to rally and show support for a pet “lemon law.”
Senate Bill 228 would require pet dealers to fully disclose all breeder and health information for each animal, and guarantee that the animal will be healthy upon purchase. If the pet is found to be ill or diseased after sale, the pet dealer will be required to refund the price of the animal, or veterinary fees up to the cost of purchase.
The bill is known as “Bailey’s Law” after a small dog purchased in Fairfax City that nearly died shortly after purchase. The dog survived and was brought to the committee hearing by his owner.
Sen. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, sponsored the bill, which attracted individual animal lovers and activists and also many prominent animal rights groups.
“Baywatch” actress Pamela Anderson, also an animal activist and author, was quoted in a Petersen press release supporting the bill.
“It’s time to realize Virginia has a puppy-trafficking problem,” Anderson stated. “Pet stores and dishonest dealers still bring puppies from other states and sell them to people who don’t know they’re buying a puppy mill animal.
“That’s why I support SB 228, ‘Bailey’s Law,’ which will be an effective deterrent to prevent pet stores and dealers from selling animals that are bred in inhumane and unacceptable puppy mills.”
The bill also enjoys the support of established animal-rights groups such as the Humane Society of Virginia, the Virginia SPCA and the Virginia Veterinary Association.
Caroline Radom, manager of communications for the Richmond SPCA, says this bill is not only very important for the pets, but also for the pet owners. She says the bill will hopefully help consumers make responsible decisions when looking to purchase or adopt a dog.
Among the activists present at the Capitol, only one representative from the dog breeder community voiced opposition to the bill, stating, “We cannot pass legislation to save people from themselves.”
Despite the nay-sayer, the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee passed the bill with a 13-1 vote.
“I’m pleased we were able to get together all the parties, and craft a good bill that protects puppies and consumers,” Petersen stated in a press release after the bill passed committee.
Bailey’s Law now awaits a full Senate vote.