Do you know your own State laws regarding the sale of Rabbits and Cavies?


NOTE: Please do not take this article as an all inclusive summary of laws or as legal advise. My goal in this article is simply to introduce the subject to breeders and to lead them in the direction to research their own state and federal regulations.


Many show breeders make extra money to support their hobby by selling excess stock as pets.  Pet rabbits may be sold directly to the new pet owner or through other avenues such as pet stores and pet distributors (who then sell to retail stores). This can be a lucrative and enjoyable means of generating the money to continue exhibiting and to pass on the enjoyment of rabbits to other people. But do you know if you are following all the laws that pertain to this activity?

All of us in the U.S. are subject to the Animal Welfare Act which applies if you sell more than $500 of animals, per year, to a pet store or distributor. If so, then you may need to be licensed and follow certain animal care and housing standards. There are also many exemptions to the $500 rule though and you should read carefully to be sure whether they apply or not.

For more information about AWA, here is a link to a summary of the law:

You can find specifics about licensing and whether you are included or excluded and what licensing involves by reading a full text version of the AWA available at the USDA and Aphis sites. This article is not intended to detail those points.


Each state has its own particular laws governing the sale and use of animals.  These main laws are included in the state’s version of the Animal Cruelty Statutes. Every state has a version of these Statutes, but they may differ greatly from state to state. Many states do not specifically include rabbits and other small animals in their statute. That does not mean that these animals are not governed elsewhere, just that you will have to search farther to find any pertinent information. One frequent inclusion pertaining to rabbits and small animals is the age at which they may be sold, to whom they may be sold and if they may be used in fairs, carnivals or games of chance. I have included a brief summary of each of our District 9 states and the information I found in the Animal Cruelty Statutes for those states.


Pet sale laws by State for District 9.



South Carolina

Citation: Code 1976 § 47-13-160

            (1) "Pet dealer" is a person engaged in the ordinary course of business and sale to the public for profit of a companion animal described as being registered or being capable of being registered with an animal pedigree organization.


            Citation: VA ST § 3.1-796.66 - 87

            "Dealer" means any person who in the regular course of business for compensation or profit buys, sells, transfers, exchanges, or barters companion animals. The following shall not be considered dealers: (i) any person who transports companion animals in the regular course of business as a common carrier, or (ii) any person or organization whose primary purpose is to find permanent adoptive homes for companion animals.


New Jersey

AN ACT concerning animal cruelty, and amending R.S.4:22-17 and R.S.4:22-26.

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

4:22-26. A person who shall:…q. Sell or offer for sale, barter, or give away living rabbits, turtles, baby chicks, ducklings or

other fowl under two months of age, for use as household or domestic pets;



Citation: MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-601 – 622

No mention of rabbit sales noted


South Carolina

SECTION 47-1-125. Coloring or dying animals prohibited; sale or distribution of certain young animals prohibited; penalty. (2) It is unlawful for any person to sell, offer for sale or give away as merchandising premiums, baby chickens, ducklings or other fowl under four weeks of age or rabbits under two months of age to be used as pets, toys or retail premiums.

North Carolina
Citation: N.C.G.S.A. § 14-360 - 363.2

§ 14-363.1. Living baby chicks or other fowl, or rabbits under eight weeks of age; disposing of as pets or novelties forbidden

If any person, firm or corporation shall sell, or offer for sale, barter or give away as premiums living baby chicks, ducklings, or other fowl or rabbits under eight weeks of age as pets or novelties, such person, firm or corporation shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. Provided, that nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the sale of non domesticated species of chicks, ducklings, or other fowl, or of other fowl from proper brooder facilities by hatcheries or stores engaged in the business of selling them for purposes other than for pets or novelties.


Wash DC
Citation: DC ST § 22-1001 – 1015 – No mention of rabbit sales found

A statute in Pennsylvania § 5511.(b)   Cruelty to animals indicates:

b) Regulating certain actions concerning fowl or RABBITS. – A person commits a summary offense if he sells, offers for sale, barters or gives away baby chickens, ducklings, or other fowl, under one month of age, or RABBITS under two months of age, as pets, toys, premiums or novelties or if he colors, dyes, stains or otherwise changes the natural color of baby chickens, ducklings or other fowl, or RABBITS or if he brings or transports the same into this commonwealth. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the sale or display of such baby chickens, ducklings, or other fowl or such RABBITS, in proper facilities by persons engaged in the business of selling them for the purposes of commercial breeding and raising.

Citation: VA ST § 3.1-796.122 – 126 – No mention of rabbit sales found

West Virginia
Citation: WV ST § 61-8-19 – 23 No mention of rabbit sales found


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