Kaine and Warner seek higher standards for commercial dog breeding facilities

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:55 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are calling for an update to the USDA’s standards for commercial dog breeding facilities. On the local level, a similar idea has been discussed in Rockingham County over the last few months.

On Tuesday Kaine and Warner joined 22 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack urging him to update the standards for commercial breeding facilities that are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.

“Senator Warner and I were really involved in this long-standing tussle over the Envigo facility in Cumberland which eventually the FDA shutdown. But we were not happy with how long it took and how severe the abuses of animals were that were going on in that facility over such a long period of time,” said Senator Kaine.

The Senators are asking the USDA to update the standards that are regulated under the AWA to reflect the proposed Puppy Protection Act which would amend the AWA.

The proposed standards would go to greater lengths to ensure dogs in breeding facilities have adequate housing, caging, feeding and watering, socialization with humans and other dogs, as well as veterinary care.

“It’s time to look not only at the standards but also the degree of enforcement. Because you can have the best standards in the world but if you’re not doing the inspections or you’re doing them and letting people off with a slap on the wrist rather than meaningful improvements then you’re not really enforcing the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act,” said Kaine.

Kaine said that it was especially important for him to support the effort for stronger USDA standards after dealing with the Envigo facility in Cumberland County.

“We shouldn’t be tolerating facilities of the kind that we experienced in Cumberland County. It was appropriate that finally we shut that down, people were so incredibly generous in adopting the 4,000 beagles from that facility, and it was great to play a part in that. Let’s just make sure we don’t have another one of these,” said Kaine.

On the local level, Rockingham County Supervisors have also discussed adopting a dog kennel ordinance.

The proposed ordinance amendment to the County Code would include requirements for the location, size, and condition of kennels, the number of dogs they can have and breed, and the amount of exercise, training, and socialization each dog must receive.

Rockingham County Supervisors last discussed the ordinance in October when it was tabled. County Administrator Stephen King said it will likely not be voted on until sometime next year.