For years, the responsible pet industry has been engaging, often pro-actively, with lawmakers to help them understand what ethical retailers and breeders do for pets and pet owners. Those efforts recently helped lead to industry-supported measures becoming law in Virginia, as well as forward movement
on animal shelter regulations in Connecticut.
Now major media publications have recognized the value in what the industry, including PIJAC, are doing on the legislative front. On Monday, The Washington Post published an op-edby Virginia pet store owner Chris Foschini and PIJAC Vice President of Government Affairs Robert Likins. In the piece, Likins and Foschini praised Virginia lawmakers and Governor Terry McAuliffe for signing two bills into law that will protect pets and consumers and allow responsible retailers and breeders to thrive in the state.
The most critical of the bills was Senate Bill 852. Originally a measure that would have hurt the industry and prospective pet owners, SB 852 was significantly changed to benefit all stakeholders. PIJAC thanks Chris Foschini for leading a state coalition that, as described by the op-ed,
immediately went to work, educating members of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee about the real harm of SB 852. The bill was improved by the Agriculture Subcommittee by matching USDA language for breeder requirements and clarifying that businesses can be punished only for purposeful violations of state law. Finally, the bill clarified an exemption for hobby breeders who would have been harmed by the original version of SB 852.
Just a day before Likins and Foschini were published, PIJAC Board Chair Laura “Peach” Reid told The New Haven Register readers how pet industry advocates and animal shelter activists have tag-teamed to improve animal and consumer safety. Legislators are currently considering regulations on animal shelters throughout Connecticut.
The state is now correctly taking steps to develop standards for animal rescues and shelters, with unanimous bipartisan support for House Bill 6334 from the Joint Committee on the Environment last month. HB 6334 requires the registration, regulation, inspection and oversight of animal shelters within the state.
The need for this law is clear. Animal control officers often cannot stop abusers like Fred Acker, who ran SPCA of Connecticut despite a 2013 conviction on 63 counts of animal cruelty, until it’s too late. Acker was sentenced in September to a year in prison and three years of probation after he was found engaging in more animal cruelty and again convicted.