Please join the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and the Humane Society of the United States this Thursday in Richmond for Humane Lobby Day. There will be plenty to discuss with your representatives. Here is my take on each of the companion animal related bills in this session:
HB 158 (Prohibiting Devocalization): A great bill designed to end an inhumane practice. Virginia missed the opportunity to pass this last year, but will hopefully come through this session.
HB 363 (Companion Animals in Protective Orders): This bill clarifies that judges have the ability to include companion animals in protective orders.
HB 650 (Notice of Euthanasia for Companion Animals): This bill provides that shelters or pounds give notice to rescues in the position to help out before euthanizing healthy, adoptable companion animals.
HB 888 (Allowing Local Anti-Tethering Ordinances): This merely clarifies that localities have the ability to pass their own anti-tethering ordinances.
SB 359 (TNR): This bill clarifies that TNR is a legal and acceptable practice to control feral cat populations that should not be hindered by current abandonment laws.
HJ 143 (Spay Day): Who could resist this?!
SUPPORT IN PART AND OPPOSE IN PART:
HB 537/SB 305 (Dangerous Dog Registry): This bill makes good changes to shift more responsibility to local animal control officers, but the 45-day window to comply with the registration certification procedures is too long. When there has been an issue such as obtaining insurance that has taken longer than the current 10-day window, animal control officers are more than willing to work with registrants. A 15-day window would probably be sufficient.
HB 95 (Bear Hound Training): Training is already allowed during most times of the day, and there is no reason to extend training into the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning.
SB 610 (Agricultural Animals): This bill is a huge setback, as it tries to peel off hunting, working and show dogs from the definition of companion animals and puts all authority in the hands of the State Vet instead of localities and animal control officers.
Please reach out to your state representatives to ask for support regarding these vital companion animal issues. If you are unsure of who your representatives are, or how to contact them, visit the Virginia General Assembly website.