Senate passes puppy mill bill, “Bailey’s Law”
On Thursday, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed SB 228, “Bailey’s Law,” the puppy mill bill patroned by Sen. chap petersen (D-Fairfax), one of the top legislative priorities for the Humane Society of the United States.
The bill’s Senate passage marks a milestone in a process that began with complaints of sick and dying puppies being sold at a Fairfax pet store. Bailey’s owner, Felicia Collins Okomarez, purchased the beagle and almost immediately noticed the animal was sick.
“Within hours of getting her it was very clear that she was terribly sick, and we went to a vet, and they told me that she might die,” Okomarez said in a report on National Public Radio.
The veterinarian treating Bailey informed Okomarez that the puppy had severe parasites, a respiratory infection, and a hole in her heart. Bailey could not eat or drink water, and was immediately placed on an IV in intensive veterinary care. Okomarez would go on to spend thousands of dollars caring for Bailey; the dog, now one year old, is currently back to good health.
“Unfortunately under the statute as it is right now, you can either give the animal back and never see it again, or you can keep it, and have no remedy,” Petersen said in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
“What we’re trying to do is here strike a stronger balance that is both pro-pet and pro-consumer,” Petersen said.
Petersen’s bill, a carefully crafted compromise between pet stores, pet dealers, animal activists, and legal experts, will require pet dealers to fully disclose the breeder information for each animal and guarantee that the pets they sell are healthy. If the pet is found to be sick or diseased, the pet dealer will return the price of the animal – or refund veterinary fees (up to the cost of purchase) for a sick animal if the owner decides to keep the pet.
After the Senate voted unanimously Petersen issued the following statement to animal activists and members of the Humane Society:
“I’m pleased we have been able to get this bill so far, and we now need all of your support to help get it through the House. Please contact your Delegate and let them know that you support Bailey’s Law, a bill designed to protect both puppies and consumers.”
Laura Donahue, Virginia state director for The Humane Society of the United States issued the following statement in response to the passage of Senate Bill 228:
“The Virginia House of Delegates must do the right thing for consumers and animal welfare and pass Senate Bill 228. Virginia has one of the best laws in the country to protect dogs in puppy mills, but pet dealers are circumventing these laws by bringing in hundreds of dogs from puppy mills out of state every year. This bill will provide the transparency and protection that are necessary to crack down on inhumane breeding operations. It will also allow people like the owner of the bill’s namesake, Bailey, to receive reimbursement for the hundreds of dollars they may spend in veterinary visits and medical care to save their pets’ lives.”