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State Pet Shop Laws: Virginia

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Definitions:

  • Adequate care: responsible practice of good animal husbandry, handling, production, management, confinement, feeding, watering, protection, shelter, transportation, treatment, and, when necessary, euthanasia, appropriate for the age, species, condition, size and type of the animal and the provision of veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering or impairment of health. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Adequate exercise: the opportunity for the animal to move sufficiently to maintain normal muscle tone and mass for the age, species, size, and condition of the animal. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Adequate feed: access to and the provision of food that is of sufficient quantity and nutritive value to maintain each animal in good health; is accessible to each animal; is prepared so as to permit ease of consumption for the age, species, condition, size and type of each animal; is provided in a clean and sanitary manner; is placed so as to minimize contamination by excrement and pests; and is provided at suitable intervals for the species, age, and condition of the animal, but at least once daily, except as prescribed by a veterinarian or as dictated by naturally occurring states of hibernation or fasting normal for the species. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Adequate shelter: provision of and access to shelter that is suitable for the species, age, condition, size, and type of each animal; provides adequate space for each animal; is safe and protects each animal from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight, the adverse effects of heat or cold, physical suffering, and impairment of health; is properly lighted; is properly cleaned; enables each animal to be clean and dry, except when detrimental to the species; and, for dogs and cats, provides a solid surface, resting platform, pad, floor mat, or similar device that is large enough for the animal to lie on in a normal manner and can be maintained in a sanitary manner. Shelters whose wire, grid, or slat floors (i) permit the animals' feet to pass through the openings, (ii) sag under the animals' weight, or (iii) otherwise do not protect the animals' feet or toes from injury are not adequate shelter. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Adequate space: sufficient space to allow each animal to (i) easily stand, sit, lie, turn about, and make all other normal body movements in a comfortable, normal position for the animal and (ii) interact safely with other animals in the enclosure. When freedom of movement would endanger the animal, temporarily and appropriately restricting movement of the animal according to professionally accepted standards for the species is considered adequate space. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Adequate water: provision of and access to clean, fresh, potable water of a drinkable temperature that is provided in a suitable manner, in sufficient volume, and at suitable intervals, but at least once every 12 hours, to maintain normal hydration for the age, species, condition, size and type of each animal, except as prescribed by a veterinarian or as dictated by naturally occurring states of hibernation or fasting normal for the species; and is provided in clean, durable receptacles that are accessible to each animal and are placed so as to minimize contamination of the water by excrement and pests or an alternative source of hydration consistent with generally accepted husbandry practices. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Animal: any nonhuman vertebrate species except fish. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Companion animal: any domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, exotic or native bird, or any feral animal or any animal in the custody of a person or any animal that is bought, sold, or bartered. Excludes agricultural animal, game species and research animals. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Dealer: any person [includes businesses] who in the regular course of business buys, sells, or transfers companion animals. Excludes animal shelters and rescue groups. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Pet dealer not defined.
  • Pet shop: an establishment where companion animals are bought, sold, or exchanged to the general public. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)
  • Properly cleaned: carcasses, debris, food waste and excrement are removed with sufficient frequency to minimize the animals' contact with the contaminants; the primary enclosure is sanitized with sufficient frequency to minimize odors and the hazards of disease; and the primary enclosure is cleaned so as to prevent the animals from being directly or indirectly sprayed with the stream of water, or directly or indirectly exposed to hazardous chemicals or disinfectants. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.66)

Vet Care:

  • Pet shops and dealers must provide “veterinary care when needed or to prevent suffering” to each companion animal. (Penalty: class 4 misdemeanor) (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.68)
  • Prohibits anyone from importing a pet animal [dog, cat, monkey, or other animal or poultry] without a vet certificate. Does not apply to aquarium fish or invertebrates. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-735)

Housing:

  • Pet shops and dealers must provide for each companion animal “adequate space in the primary enclosure for the particular type of animal depending upon its age, size, species and weight.” (Penalty: class 4 misdemeanor) (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.68)

Lemon Laws:

  • Pet dealers must give buyers of dogs and cats an animal history certificate. Buyer must sign the certificate and the dealer keeps a copy for 1 year. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.78)
  • Pet dealers must give a written consumers’ notice to dog and cat buyers. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.81)
  • Dealers must vaccinate all dogs and cats prior to delivering animals to buyers. Dealers must provide vaccination history to buyers. (Penalty: class 3 misdemeanor) (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.70)
  • Lemon law that offers recourse to those who purchase sick or diseased animals from pet shops. [See VA. CODE ANN. §§ 3.1-796.80, 3.1-796.82 for consumer remedies for the purchase of an ill or diseased animal.]

Food and Water:

  • Pet shops and dealers must provide “adequate” food and water to each companion animal. (Penalty: class 3 misdemeanor, seizure of animals, and permit revocation) (VA. CODE ANN. §§ 3.1-796.68, 3.1-796.71)

Sanitary Conditions:

  • Pet shops and dealers must provide “adequate shelter that is properly cleaned” to each companion animal. (Penalty: class 3 misdemeanor, seizure of animals, and permit revocation) (VA. CODE ANN. §§ 3.1-796.68, 3.1-796.71)

Unweaned Animals:

  • Prohibits dealers from delivering to buyers fowl under 2 months old that are sold as pets. Exception if sold in quantities of 6 or more. (Penalty: class 3 misdemeanor) (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.70)
  • Prohibits dealers from delivering to buyers any unweaned companion animal (mammals). Prohibits dealers from delivering to buyers a puppy or kitten under 7 weeks old unless mother is with the animal. (Penalty: class 3 misdemeanor) (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.70)

Miscellaneous Provisions:

  • License not required for retail pet stores.
  • Pet shops and dealers must provide “adequate exercise” to each companion animal. (Penalty: class 3 misdemeanor, seizure of animals, and permit revocation) (VA. CODE ANN. §§ 3.1-796.68, 3.1-796.71)
  • State veterinarian can inspect “at any reasonable time.” (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.67:2)
  • Animal control, law enforcement, humane investigators and state veterinarian can inspect animals and records and investigate complaints. Warrants allowed. (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.107)
  • Prohibits killing animals using a high altitude decompression chamber. (Penalty: class 4 misdemeanor) (VA. CODE ANN. § 3.1-796.77)

Notes:

  1. Where “adequate space” is not defined the state has not established a definition for the term.
  2. The definition of “animal” may actually be broadly written while the types of animals covered by the law (e.g., veterinary care, sanitation, food and water) may be more narrowly drafted.

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