The Virginia legislative session began Wednesday of this week and there are a number of dog bills we are concerned with. Following is a press release from AKC about some bills which would allow people to remove a dog (or other companion animal) from a vehicle if they believe the animal is in crisis. On the face of it, a good idea, but there are a number of serious problems with the way these bills are written. Also on Monday several other bills will be discussed in committee and Alice and I will be attending those hearings as well. More on those this weekend.
The Virginia Courts of Justice – Civil Law Subcommittee has just scheduled a hearing on Monday, January 18, that would include consideration of two bills that allow private citizens to remove a companion animal from a vehicle if they believe that the animal is at risk of serious bodily injury or death.
All who reside or participate in events in Virginia are encouraged to contact the committee prior to the January 18 afternoon hearing and express any comments or concerns you have with House Bills 38 and 211 (Click on the link to view committee phone numbers and e-mail addresses).
The AKC agrees that no person or animal should ever be left in a situation where their health or safety is in danger. Those who would leave them in such a situation – including a vehicle – should be held accountable. However, as currently written, House Bills 38 and 211 could lead to lost dogs, property damage, and other unintended consequences.
House Bills 38 and 211 would permit anyone to remove an unattended companion animal from a motor vehicle if they believe the animal is at risk of serious injury or death. It further states that the person may not be held liable for any damages, including loss of the animal or any injury caused by the animal. There is no requirement that the person removing the dog should stay with the vehicle, or leave any kind of message as to who removed the animal and where it was taken. The bills do require that the person attempt to call a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical services officer, an animal control officer, or 9-1-1.
There is also no recourse for the owner for damage incurred when the animal in the car was not in danger, or for protection if the dog harms someone as a result of being removed from the vehicle. These protections are especially important if the animal flees the car and becomes at large.
For questions or more information on these measures, contact:
Alice Harrington, Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Co-Legislative Liaison
firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 533-5581 (h) or (703) 965-7401
Sharyn Hutchens, Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Co-Legislative Liaison
email@example.com or (540) 464-8046 (h) or (540) 784-8948
You may also contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.