Companion Animal Law Blog

Bringing together those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around companion animals

Humane Lobby Day and an Overview of Virginia’s 2012 Legislative Session

10 Comments

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:

STRONGLY SUPPORT:

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 695/SB 202 (Prohibiting Fox and Coyote Penning):  Like dog fighting, which is now outlawed in all fifty states, fox penning is an inhumane “sport” that amounts to cruelty.

HB 888 (Allowing Local Anti-Tethering Ordinances):  This merely clarifies that localities have the ability to pass their own anti-tethering ordinances.

HB 1242/SB 477 (Prohibiting Exotic Animals):  A necessary response to the tragedy last year in Ohio.

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.

STRONGLY OPPOSE:

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.

Author: Heidi Meinzer

Attorney and Animal Lover, not necessarily in that order

10 thoughts on “Humane Lobby Day and an Overview of Virginia’s 2012 Legislative Session

  1. As an Ohioan I would oppose this
    HB 1242/SB 477 (Prohibiting Exotic Animals): A necessary response to the tragedy last year in Ohio.
    Reactionary legislation is never a good thing. Just look at BDL/BSL. It’s never well thought out, punishes responsible people, costly to the tax payers and difficult to enforce. It also takes much longer to fix the mistakes made then to do it right in the first place.

  2. HB610 would classify these dogs as livestock instead of companion animals and puts all authority for livestock in the hands of the State Vet instead of localities and animal control officers; therefore this bill would include horses. This will result in no one being held accountable for these animals welfare.
    .

  3. Heidi – that last one, SB 610 sounds like the commercial kennel license/animal welfare legislation we have in Iowa that puts the Department of Agriculture in charge of inspecting and licensing dog trainers and groomers, along with commercial breeding facilities and other pet care businesses which in my opinion diverts attention away from the real issue and the reason for the legislation in the first place – puppy mills. The Department of Agriculture construes this legislation, originally referred to as the “puppy mill” law to include dog trainers like myself without a training facility and even pays unannounced visits to the homes of trainers without facilities! Dog trainers must pay an annual licensing fee and are subject to the same inspection standards by Department of Agriculture inspectors as boarding and commercial breeding facilities. Non-compliance results in heavy fines and jail time as well as revocation of one’s commercial kennel license and ability to continue to conduct business. After complaining to state legislators about the misinterpretation of this legislation by the Department of Agriculture they are now drafting a law to license dog trainers under separate legislation, even after I suggested that dog trainers are not licensed in any other state and that this is not a good idea. My professional experience includes work as a compliance officer and setting up programs for monitoring and maintaining competency of healthcare professionals, including licensure. I know too well how complicated and involved this process is, and do not recommend that the Department of Agriculture take on licensing dog trainers, especially when the intent of the law was to focus on animal welfare in commercial breeding facilities – puppy mills. The Department of Agriculture needs to be limited in its scope of authority, limited to oversight of commercial breeding facilities. That’s my two cents.

    • Cindy, I agree that states who were starting to target puppy mills have gotten distracted. Very frustrating. I would very much like to see a real push to eradicating puppy mills and the sale of live animals in stores and newspapers and on the internet. Thanks for commenting! Heidi

  4. Oops – “Dog trainers must pay an annual licensing fee and are subject to the same inspection standards by Department of Agriculture inspectors as boarding and commercial breeding facilities” should read “Dog trainers must pay an annual licensing fee and are subject to the same inspection standards as boarding and commercial breeding facilities.”

  5. They have tabled SB 610….. but not canceled. I suspect they will simply try to push it through next year when they think we arent looking. :o(

    ============================================================
    Subject: Re: Hunting / Working / Show Dogs are NOT Agricultural Animals
    From: DelMCole@house.virginia.gov
    Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 10:49:33 -0500

    Thank you for contacting me regarding SB 610 Agricultural animals; regulation of care and handling. The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee voted to continue the bill for further study. It will not be acted on this year.

    Again, thank you for your input.

    Mark L. Cole
    Delegate, 88th District
    Spotsylvania, Stafford, Fredericksburg, and Fauquier

    To: DelMCole@house.virginia.gov
    Date: 01/26/2012 09:38 AM
    Subject: Hunting / Working / Show Dogs are NOT Agricultural Animals

    Greetings,

    I just signed the following petition addressed to: Richard H. Black, Ralph Northam, Harry B. Blevins, John Miller.

    —————-
    Hunting / Working / Show Dogs are NOT Agricultural Animals

    On 19 Jan. a bill was brought by Richard H. Black, to amend and reenact § 3.2-300 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 3.2-6503.2, relating to the regulation of animal agriculture.

    SB610:
    Regulation of care and handling of agricultural animals. Provides that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services occupies the entire field of regulation of the care and handling of agricultural animals and that no locality or humane society shall do so. The bill also defines several terms relating to agricultural animals.

    Bottom Line: this bill would re-define Hunting Dogs, Working Dogs and Show Dogs as “Agricultural Animals” and that policy governing the care of said animals would fall to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services–and NO OTHERS.
    – No political subdivision, locality, or humane society shall regulate the care and handling of agricultural animals.
    This would remove many of the protections currently in place for these Dogs, and is not an acceptable practice to most of us.
    —————-

    Sincerely,

    ~~~~~~~~

    Note: this email was sent as part of a petition started on Change.org, viewable at http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-state-of-va-hunting-working-show-dogs-are-not-agricultural-animals. To respond, email responses@change.org and incl

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