Cats and dogs; prohibits any dealer from overbreeding. (HB1232)

Introduced By

Del. Margi Vanderhye (D-McLean) with support from co-patrons Del. Mark Sickles (D-Alexandria), and Sen. Patsy Ticer (D-Alexandria)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Overbreeding of cats and dogs; penalty. Prohibits any dealer from breeding more than 20 litters of dogs or cats, or selling more than 100 dogs or cats, in any year. Violators are guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. Read the Bill »


01/23/2008: Merged into HB538


01/09/2008Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 086161762
01/09/2008Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
01/22/2008Assigned ACNRsub: #1 Agriculture
01/23/2008Incorporated by Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources (HB538-Orrock)


Waldo Jaquith writes:

Interesting. This basically makes puppy mills illegal.

Claire Ward writes:

It will be interesting to see what happens with this bill. It clearly was written to protect the interests of confirmation/hobby breeders, who generally breed no more than 2-3 litters a year at the most.

Gerbera writes:

Thank goodness! I've started to get involved in rescue work and the emails I get begging for people to take in dogs taken from busted puppy farms are so sad.

Just a few months ago, I saw a news report on NBC29 here in Charlottesville that said Virginia's lax laws make it a friendly state for puppy mills.

There are videos on Youtube of auctions where puppy mill owners buy and sell their "studs" (if that's the right term) that are shocking.

Cross Creek writes:

I am a big believer in don’t breed what you cannot take the up most care of. I breed game fowl and I refuse to breed and raise more than I can give the absolute best care to including shelters, feed, water, supplements, and vaccines to control diseases. I use to raise dogs from times to times and I could only imagine what taking care of 100 puppies would be like. In my opinion there is almost no way someone could give the care it requires to them types of numbers of dogs or cats.

Deb writes:

I'd love to see even more restrictions but this is a good first step. The Hillsville situation was just horrible, and that's just one visible case...

There are so many unregulated backyard puppy mills, but this bill is a place to start.

For anyone who cares about pets please also see the gas chamber legislation and make your voices heard. Thanks for caring.

Bob Kane writes:

HB1232 Overbreeding of cats and dogs; penalty.
Margi Vanderhye, Sickles, Sen. Ticer
Summary: Prohibits any dealer from breeding more than 20 litters of dogs or cats, or selling more than 100 dogs or cats, in any year. Violators are guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
VHDOA Comment: This dealer bill applies to large Virginia pet breeders and/or sellers and attempts to supercede federal law. It includes those entities federally licensed and inspected by USDA and those exempt under the US Code. It also limits sales in every pet store in the state. Further, in addition to fines, "such animals shall be subject to seizure and impoundment, and upon conviction of such person the animals may be sold, euthanized, or disposed of..."

Walt Hutchens writes:

Waldo, Gerbera, Deb, and others: There's something you're missing here. While many of us believe that puppies are best bred in a home setting, a litter at a time, the number of such pups is considerably smaller than the number needed annually for replacement and population growth. In this situation there WILL BE commercial breeding, including farm breeding for sale through pet shops.

Furthermore, regardless of our beliefs that us home breeders do it better, the great majority of pet shop buyers are satisfied with their dogs.

Attempts to eliminate commercial breeding by making it illegal will lead to ILLEGAL commercial breeding -- lots more trailers back in the woods. "No, I'm sorry, you can't meet 'mom' or see where the pups are raised. Because ..." (fill in excuse here.)

Will these 'puppy moonshine' breeders even obey reasonable animal welfare laws? What do you think? How can such breeding possibly be better than larger farms whose location is known to everyone and which must be licensed (inspected) by USDA if they sell any at wholesale?

If we want all puppies raised small-scale, then we have to encourage small scale breeding: Get rid of zoning and dog limit laws that make hobby and 'a litter once in a while for some extra money' breeding impossible, actively recruit people to home breeding, mentor them, and above all, stop using 'breeder' as if it were a dirty word.

Pets are important to people and we to them. But right now, America is rushing to be sure that all its pets will be raised by the worst people in the worst circumstances. There is no clearer example of that than HB 1232 and no clearer example of the reason than most of the comments above.

Be careful what you wish for.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

"Puppy moonshine"? That's awesome. And potentially quite tasty.

Angela McCalla writes:

Nothing this law does will shut down or change commercial breeding. The only thing it would accomplish is to eventually put hobby breeders out of business. A hobby breeder is generally someone who raises their puppies inside their homes, with proper feed, socialization, and provide exceptional care of the dam and puppies, placing them carefully in screened homes.

This bill, if passed, will certainly be amended every year to smaller and smaller numbers, thus putting us home hobby breeders out of business. There would be nowhere to buy home raised puppies except commercial breeders, who are regulated already by the USDA and sell to pet shops.

Just say no to this nonsense.

Scottee Meade writes:

This is another bill that needs to die!

Although I might personally choose NOT to purchase a puppy from a commercial breeder, I do believe they have a niche to fill in the marketplace. And once they are legislated out of existence in Virginia, this bill will likely be amended until gradually more and more breeders are regulated out of the business.

Karen Peak writes:

Shut down commercial breeding in VA and pet shops will do what they have done for decades, go out of state. The HSUS cannot prove who is actually a miller or not. They cannot prove their numbers. In their eyes, all breeding is bad.

These laws will also affect those breeding dogs for aiding the disabled. I used to volunteer with a service dog group and there were quite a few breeding dogs being fostered in VA. One pup I raised was being considered for breeding.

This bill can easily be circumvented by those who want to, by those who are already in some cases circumventing local laws and zoning. I can think of three people right off the top of my head who are currently doing this. This law will encourage more illegal breeding.

This bill backs the commercial breeder and will shut down those who are working hard to better health, temperament and function.

The ultimate goal of these groups is the ending of all breeding. It is easier to amend a law than to repeal it when the negatives start to show. Therefore, this law can be amended to end al small scale breeding if it is passed. Commercial breeders will always be here. Good breeders are an endangered species. Then there are those who will ignore the laws and more animal neglect wil come about. As Walt said "Puppy Moonshine."

Gerbera writes:

Why do we need commercial breeding of dogs and cats int he first place?

Kay writes:

Millions of dogs are killed each year and many more are left homeless due to aggressive for-profit breeding that add to an already massive pet overpopulation crisis. I and those close to me wholeheartedly support HB 1232, designed to prevent further overpopulation and the sickening conditions and suffering of animals in puppy mills. Virginia is better than this, and we must support these reasonable limits and stop abusive overbreeding.

Robin Harrison writes:

Massive pet overpopulation crisis? Yet northeastern states are importing our southern shelter dogs up north by the truckload?

Let's see, the two commercial breeders who have been shut down specialized in the tiny little lap breeds - Llhasas, ShitZus(sp?), Maltese, etc. I visit shelters frequently as a rescue volunteer - VA, NC, WV, TN - yet I can't recall the last time I saw one of those tiny lap breeds residing in one. That sorta says to me that the vast majority of these commercially bred dogs go on to forever homes and live their lives out happily with their families.

Abusive breeding. Funny thing. Neither of the owners of the so-called "puppy mills" that have been shut down recently were charged with cruelty. One went over his kennel license limit and failed to register w/the USDA. But heck ya, it's a slow boring day, huh? Let's rush to make up new laws to further criminalize "those people" and cast that net wide enough to persecute any other dog owner who dares to breed too...

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Massive pet overpopulation crisis? Yet northeastern states are importing our southern shelter dogs up north by the truckload?

The problem is an imbalance of breed availability. We've got way too many beagles here, but they really want them up there. The inverse is also true, as you inadvertently explained:

I visit shelters frequently as a rescue volunteer - VA, NC, WV, TN - yet I can't recall the last time I saw one of those tiny lap breeds residing in one.

Right, that's because those are more popular up in the northeast. Those are the ones that get shipped down here.

Have you never been in an animal shelter? Your suggestion that there's not an enormous pet overpopulation crisis in shelters is utterly ridiculous. Hell, I'm fostering a cat right now. I hate cats, but the damned thing has to live somewhere until somebody adopts this six-toed beast, and the local shelter is full up.

Robin Harrison writes:

My first dog came from a shelter, Waldo. I visit several shelters a month volunteering my time, gas, and truck for a pure breed rescue. I pull the dogs and transport them on to available foster homes. I've been with this rescue since around 2002 when I was living in NC. At that time, there were far more of my breed (a larger active and very mischievous one) in NC shelters than we could save in a given week. Fast forward to 2008. Now we're scrambling to find them to fill our available foster homes. In the past year, we've pulled our dogs from VA, TN, WV, GA, AR (yeah, all the way from Arkansas!), KY, SC, and NC. The rescue or number of foster slots hasn't grown that much, but the number of dogs in my breed close by needing our rescue have decreased tremendously.

I stand by my assertion that there is not an overpopulation problem for DOGS. This bill addresses the breeding of dogs. Overpopulation is more *puppies* born than homes available for them. That is not the case even in northern VA! They're screaming for PUPPIES. Some rural shelters may have a lot of puppies, but if they're willing to work with rescue, those puppies will move along and find homes almost immediately.

The dogs who populate and die in our Southern shelters are typically larger active mixed breed adolescents and adults. Yeah, a lot of those are hound and beagle mixes. D'ya really think they come from the "commercial breeder" that this bill attempts to define and regulate? These dogs may arrive at the shelter for a number of reasons, but seldom deposited there by the breeder. Financial crisis or family problems, behavior problems of the dogs such as lack of proper socialization and training. Please read HB 538, Waldo, and tell me how you think this bill will help them.

You're sadly mistaken in your thinking or misunderstood what I was saying with respect to tiny toy breeds. Many Southerners own small lap dogs. They're quite popular. They do not populate or die in our shelters because people can't rescue the rare ones who do land there fast enough. There is a clear market demand for toy breeds. It makes no sense to regulate their breeders out of business.

I'm not sure where the idealistic view that no pet should ever land in a shelter comes from. A pet in a shelter is as good or bad off as the people working with those pets. It's time to stop playing the blame and punish every dog owner game. A shelter is a service that can and should be helpful to all. The overwrought surrenderer, the rescuers, the families who want new pets, and most importantly, the dogs (or cats) who deserve that second chance.

Cats are not my forte and they take a different kind of approach to reducing their numbers in shelters. If you're interested in understanding the sheltering situation and how things could be made better, I'd suggest this book by Nathan Winograd - "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Movement in America"

Robin Harrison writes:

Oops! Thought I was on the HB 538 page. Sorry about that. Still, HB 1232 does nothing to reduce dogs and cats winding up in shelters. Those big black and brown mixed dogs in shelters are more than likely from an "ooops" in the yard or under the back porch. Same for cats, if not born to queens who were already loose and feral. There is no such thing as cat mills or farms.

Can you imagine your local AC Officer standing over at the feral colony waiting to write a ticket when that 21st litter hits the ground? Might be more effective and useful to pressure your locality to implement a TNR (Trap Neuter Return) program instead.

Jo writes:

Puppy mills contribute to problems including overbreeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor quality of food and shelter, lack of human socialization, overcrowded cages and the killing of unwanted animals. This bill is a good start in addressing dealer overbreeding.