RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed five pieces of legislation Monday to support animal welfare reform for dogs and cats that are bred and sold for experimental purposes.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, these laws, dubbed “the Beagle Bills,” work to ensure that these animals are protected by Virginia’s animal cruelty laws. They clarify the inclusion of animals bred and sold for experimental purposes in these protections and give authorities the ability to take action when violations occur.

“Today’s remarkable achievement brought every single Republican and Democrat together to protect our four-legged constituents,” said Youngkin. 

At the signing ceremony, Youngkin said, “Today, I’ll sign five bills, and those five pieces of legislation, on all of them, every single voting member of the General Assembly voted for them.”

Del. Robert Bell (R-58th District), who introduced HB 1350 to the House, added, “A dog is a dog — if it’s for a pet store, it should have the same rules as it would for any other purpose.”

“The Beagle Bills”

HB 1350 and SB 87

These laws amend the Comprehensive Animal Care Law to include cats and breeders of cats. The previous language only referred to dogs and their breeders.

These laws also clarify that breeders or dealers include any person or entity which breeds cats or dogs that are regulated by federal law as research animals. A former loophole will be closed, so breeders and dealers will be prohibited from importing or selling cats and dogs bred by anyone with certain Animal Welfare Act violations.

Specific language has been included to refer to animals sold for “experimental purposes.”

SB 88

This law requires breeders of cats and dogs bred for experimental purposes to maintain records of these animals for two years from the date of sale or transfer.

A quarterly summary of these records must be sent to the State Veterinarian and be available to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, animal control officers and law enforcement.

SB 90

The current Comprehensive Animal Care section of the code only requires animal testing facilities to offer dogs and cats, which are no longer needed, up for adoption before euthanizing them. This law makes it so that breeders of cats and dogs for experimental purposes are required to do the same with their surplus animals.

SB 604

This law clarifies that dogs and cats in possession of breeders that sell animals for experimental purposes fall under the protection of Virginia’s cruelty-to-animals laws.

As previously reported, the Cumberland County Envigo dog breeding facility has received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violations related to these new laws.