Agricultural animals; regulation of care and handling. (SB610)

Introduced By

Sen. Dick Black (R-Leesburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Regulation of care and handling of agricultural animals.  Provides that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services occupies the entire field of regulation of the care and handling of agricultural animals and that no locality or humane society shall do so. The bill also defines several terms relating to agricultural animals. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/19/2012Presented and ordered printed 12104068D
01/19/2012Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
01/25/2012Impact statement from DPB (SB610)
02/02/2012Continued to 2013 in Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)


Paula Grazzini writes:

Please do not include show dogs, hunting dogs or working dogs in this category. These are typically companion animals to the owners/trainers and merit a higher standard of protection due to the human/animal bond forged from their relationships with owners. This bill should delete those 3 categories of dogs. I do encourage you to evaluate current legislation to protect dogs from abuse and neglect by their owners, whether home pets or working dogs,and consider strengthening penalties for violations.

Thank you.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

This doesn't even make sense within the context of the code. "Livestock" is already defined for title 3.2 ("Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food") as:

all domestic or domesticated bovine animals; equine animals; ovine animals; porcine animals; cervidae animals; capradae animals; animals of the genus Lama; ratites; fish or shellfish in aquaculture facilities, as defined in § 3.2-2600; enclosed rabbits or hares raised for human food or fiber; or any other individual animal specifically raised for food or fiber, except companion animals.

So we've already defined what does and doesn't qualify as livestock. But this bill modifies a chapter totally unrelated to dogs (chapter 3, "Right to Farm"), adds to the scant two definitions that apply to this chapter with a definition that subverts the title-wide definition of what "livestock" is by adding dogs.

This doesn't belong in this part of the code. If Sen. Black has a compelling reason why dogs should qualify as livestock (defined in the code as an "animal specifically raised for food or fiber"), then he should just amend § 3.2-5900 accordingly.

Karen Kantor writes:

I'm guessing this could be called the "Puppy Mill Protection Act."

Humane societies were created for very good reasons. The legislature has no business interfering with their work or making their very important job harder.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

It is important to note that nowhere in the state code, nor anywhere in Sen. Black's bill, is "show dog," "working dog," or "hunting dog" defined. The only place in the code where any of these concepts arise is in § 3.2-6531 ("Displaying receipts; dogs to wear tags"), which wisely doesn't define those concepts, but instead applies solely to dogs that are at that moment engaged in hunting or being shown at a dog show. That is, such animals are not treated as existentially different, but merely treated differently when they are engaged in the practice in question.

What Sen. Black's bill does is define these dogs as fundamentally different because their owner claims that they could engage in one of these practices. For instance, I have an elderly beagle who I acquired when she was turned loose when she got too old to hunt. Is she a "hunting dog"? Under this bill, I could easily make just such an argument, despite that she only hunting she does now is following me around when I'm hunting, and occasionally baying at deer. Basically, by fiat, I could opt my dogs out of oversight by my county's animal control.

The proper place for such definitions is in § 3.2-6500, the definitions for the Comprehensive Animal Care chapter that's part of the Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food title. Lacking those definitions, this bill is far too vague.

Not incidentally, the impact statement for this bill makes clear another important problem. With the Office of Animal Care and Health Policy suddenly in charge of hundreds of thousands of new dogs, they'd have their work cut out for them. A staff of how many dozens of people would be required to handle this? Well, they have an annual budget of $183,923, and a staff of three: one inspector, one veterinarian, and one manager. It is, of course, quite impossible for a staff of three to take on a task of this magnitude.

Tom Mayfield writes:

I understand that this bill has been pulled by the sponsor. Well done, Senator Black.

Not Again writes:

Apparently, this bill is still alive.