Coalition of small businesses stops harmful bills in Virginia

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PIJAC and a coalition of small business owners stopped a bill that would have devastated pet retailers and breeders in Virginia, and successfully lobbied state Senators to amend another bill so that it protected ethical breeders and held lawbreaking breeders accountable.

SB 1204 created a Catch-22 in which localities in Virginia would be explicitly permitted to pass pet sale restrictions up to and including bans while making it illegal for pet stores to offer shelter dogs at their stores within six months of obtaining them. This ideological attack on ethical and legal small businesses, as well as consumer choice, was halted thanks to a coordinated effort by Virginia-based breeders and retailers who worked with PIJAC to make Senators aware of SB 1204’s potential harm to the state.

Conversely, an alliance of business owners worked with PIJAC to amend SB 852, which passed the Senate earlier this year, so that it protected the state’s breeders, pet retailers, and consumers. As originally written, the bill would have given equal importance to all USDA citations, inadvertently increasing the number of permissible Direct Non-Compliant Items.

Thanks to the Virginia coalition, SB 852 was changed so that it clarified the strong measures passed into Virginia law in 2015 – measures that the original version of SB 852 would have undermined. SB 852 currently improves Virginia law by matching current USDA language for breeders and clarifying that businesses can only be punished for purposely violating state law.

The bill also clarifies retailers’ ability to source from USDA-exempt hobby breeders and protects businesses from unknowingly running afoul of the law. These changes were made before the bill passed out of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee by a unanimous 22-0 vote. As amended, SB 852 now moves to consideration by the full Assembly.

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