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New Law Takes Aim at Puppy Mills

April 19, 2015

By Cort Olsen
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – In a crackdown on puppy mills, it will soon be illegal to sell dogs and cats on the side of the road in Virginia.

That’s the effect of legislation that Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on Friday.

Senate Bill 1001, which will take effect July 1, prohibits the sale of dogs and cats “on or in any roadside, public right-of-way, parkway, median, park, or recreation area; flea market or other outdoor market; or commercial parking lot.”

Sen. William Stanley Jr., R-Moneta, spearheaded the bill in the General Assembly. It passed unanimously in the Senate and was approved 82-15 in the House.

Matt Gray, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, fought for the bill, saying it was aimed at people who operate puppy mills or use other inhumane practices.

“Selling animals on the roadside or in front of stores is a method used by inhumane breeders and puppy mills to get rid of their animals,” Gray said. “They are able to circumvent the laws that are in place to protect animals.”

Gray said roadside displays fool customers into buying pets that may have been mistreated by the breeder. The breeders then reap profits that help fund their operations, he said.

According to the new law, “A pet shop shall sell or offer for adoption a dog procured only from a humane society or private or public animal shelter” or from someone who has not been cited for repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The law will require pet store owners to run background checks on people who sell them dogs.

“The pet store can confirm online that the person they have purchased the animal from for resale has not been sighted for violations of the Animal Welfare Act,” Gray said. The pet shop will have to keep the records for at least two years.