Disclosure of bite history. A new law for Virginia

The state of Virginia is introducing a new law: SB 571 Animal bite history; disclosure of information. It is not law yet. It is in the form of a Bill which you can read by clicking on the link below. You can see that it is being amended and refined.

By mutts.com.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Bite history bill Virginia

Virginia’s legislative information system webpage describes the law as:

“Releasing agencies; notice of dangerous animal; penalty….The bill requires any representative of a releasing agency, animal control officer, law-enforcement officer, or humane investigator, upon release of a dog or cat for (i) adoption, (ii) return to a rightful owner, or (iii) transfer to another agency, to disclose, if known, that the dog or cat has bitten a person or other animal and the circumstances and date of such bite. Violation of such requirements is a Class 3 misdemeanor.”

I interpret animal shelters as being included in the term ‘releasing agency’. The question I have is how does this new law affect cat owners. When and if do they have to disclose a cat’s ‘bite history’. It seems slightly odd to me.

CBS Fox 59 says that pet owners will be required to ask about and document an animal’s bite history. Will this mean that when an person adopts from an animal shelter they have to ask if the cat has bitten someone and the rescue employee has an obligation to provide the information in response?


Will it also apply to individuals? For instance Mrs Smith informally breeds cats. She lets a neighbour take one of the cats or sells a cat to her. Will she have to disclose a ‘bite history’? And will the buyer have to ask about it? How can this be enforced?

I suppose it also applies to breeders selling to clients. The issue I have is that it would seem to place an obligation on people to record biting. Do you include biting in play? You can’t do that because biting in play is just that: being playful. It is not something that should be held against a cat.

There seems to be some loose ends or I am misinterpreting it.

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