‘Good day to be a dog or a cat’ as guards become Virginia law | Govt. & Politics

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Animal welfare protections were signed into state law on Monday, as politicians and activist groups bark for better treatment of beagle dogs bred for experimentation in Virginia.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five animal welfare bills into law on Monday, including four laws proposed by R-Franklin County Sen. Bill Stanley to protect animals raised and sold for human experimental.

The laws signed into law on Monday stem from repeated and critical animal welfare violations found at a Cumberland County beagle dog farm owned and operated by a life science research company called Envigo, Stanley previously said.

“Today … we put all breeders on notice to ensure humane treatment protocols for dogs and cats,” Stanley said in a press release Monday. “They deserve the utmost care in all aspects of their lives, and so it is our duty and our responsibility to ensure that these obligations we have to man’s best friend are never compromised.”

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During routine federal inspections at Envigo in November 2021, animal care specialists found records indicating that 25 puppies had died from cold exposure in the previous two months, with other puppies visibly wet and trembling. These are examples of 26 total violations found at Envigo in a November 2021 report released last month, while a targeted inspection in March found five non-compliant items, according to reports available for download on the Department of Health’s website. United States Agriculture.

These recent inspections at Envigo horrified Democratic U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, according to a letter they sent to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, in which the senators asked for “aggressive enforcement action” against the breeder.

Youngkin said Monday that protecting Virginia’s four-legged voters brings all Republicans and Democrats together.

“This historic package of bills that I signed today clarifies that dogs and cats bred and sold for experimental purposes are protected by Virginia animal cruelty law, will help ensure the standards of welfare and save lives, and will empower Virginia to take action when welfare violations occur,” Youngkin said, according to a news release Monday.

The laws signed Monday seek to close loopholes in Virginia’s animal welfare code and require stricter record keeping for experimental breeders. All five laws passed the State House and Senate with unanimous final votes.

“There are 140 legislators in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and each of them has voted for these bills at least once,” Stanley previously said. “That says a lot about a meaningful change in policy in Virginia, and I think it’s a good change. It’s a good day to be a dog or a cat in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Senate Bill 87 and its companion House Bill 1350, introduced by Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, plans for the state to impose penalties following animal welfare citations found during inspections, according to an email from Stanley. The wording of SB 87 is also intended to prevent dealers or commercial dog breeders from hiring people convicted of animal abuse.

In SB 88, experimental breeders of cats and dogs are required to keep detailed animal records for two years after the date of sale. Producers must provide a quarterly summary of these records to the state veterinarian and when requested by other state agencies.

Under SB 90, experimental breeders of dogs and cats are required to first offer animals for adoption before the animal is euthanized. Only animal testing facilities were previously subject to this requirement, according to information from Youngkin’s office.

With SB 604, the definition of a pet is expanded to include dogs and cats bred for experiments, thereby protecting them under state animal cruelty laws. Previously, experimental cats and dogs were exempt from certain welfare laws due to their classification as research animals.

An undercover investigation by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, commonly referred to as PETA, has revealed conditions at the Envigo breeding facility in Cumberland. PETA Senior Vice President, Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch said Virginia made history on Monday by signing the new animal welfare protections.

“Once these laws come into effect, Envigo will no longer be able to get away with starving nursing female dogs for days, letting puppies freeze to death or fall down the drain and die, or allowing beagles to suffer. of painful and untreated conditions,” Nachminovitch said in a press release.

A watchdog group called Stop Animal Exploitation Now monitors research facilities across the country, according to a press release commenting on the laws signaling.

“This will force Envigo and other criminal breeders to obey the law or go bankrupt,” SAEN co-founder Michael Budkie said in the press release.

Envigo’s Cumberland County facility did not return previous requests for comment. Stanley said he too was horrified by the recently released inspection reports.

“If Envigo fails to make the necessary corrections, these new laws will prevent them from doing business here in the Commonwealth again,” Stanley said. “With the new regulations in place, we have created a framework that will protect these wonderful beagles in the future.”

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