Why Not Follow Virginia Beach’s Lead? [RE: ORDINANCE-3556 PET SHOPS; POSTING OF INFORMATION ABOUT DOGS.]
Animal advocacy victories are too few and far between… so why not celebrate the Virginia Beach (VB) city ordinance effective on July 1, 2018? Animal advocates have long sought greater restrictions on pet stores. Does the VB ordinance add anything of significance?
We would argue, no. Here’s why.
A comparison of the new ordinance elements to existing Virginia Code sections shows only one significant difference. That major add is a requirement for the pet store to obtain and post final Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspection reports obtained from a breeder and/or dealer.
This, at first, would seem a great change and boon for outing puppy mills, right? Unfortunately, unwary consumers are unlikely to know the limited number of inspections that are conducted on puppy mill breeders. Or that the “final” report is issued only after the puppy mill operator is given an opportunity to correct the violations found. Nor are most consumers knowledgeable about the level of USDA standards imposed. The average pet store buyer doesn’t know that USDA licensing is synonymous with standards at a basic survival level, not a humane treatment level. This creates a false sense of well-being for the consumer. No negative inspections — so the breeder must be good? Not so!
We are also left wondering about the practicality of enforcement. The USDA no longer makes its inspection reports available to the public, as a protection for breeder privacy. Therefore, no avenue exists for consumers, animal protection police, or animal control officers to check the veracity of pet store inspection postings, or lack thereof. So how can we be sure that negative inspections are made available?
Some might argue that any legislation could be of some help. However, adding ordinances that produce little impact on the inhumane conditions at puppy mills creates an impression with legislators, and the public, that the problem has already been addressed. In fact this ordinance has no impact on conditions at mills.
What was the stimulus for this ordinance? We can only speculate. It seems an outgrowth of House Bill 877: Pet shops; sale of dogs, maintenance and availability of records, which passed during the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session. The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Robert Orrock, Sr., sits on the House Agriculture Subcommittee, which hears animal welfare bills. Delegate Orrock infamously opposed bills related to pet store puppy mill sales bans and tethering in subcommittee in 2017 and 2018. His statements related to tethering are the subject of animal welfare advocates’ ire. We note that Orrock’s bill added a posting requirement for pet store’s when offering dogs from public and private shelters, which also appears in the VB ordinance. Perhaps another “nod” to the pet industry lobby?
For these reasons, NOVACA does not support laws similar to Ordinance-3556 in Northern Virginia.
Your comments are welcome.