Legislative Review 2013

The 2013 Virginia General Assembly session convened January 9 and adjourned February 23. While there were not a lot of bills that affected hobby breeding and dog ownership, we attended various committee and subcommittee hearings, worked with other animal welfare partners, and followed closely all the proceedings and votes. The results are good.

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HJ 552 – Designating March 13, in 2013 and in each succeeding year, as K-9 Veterans
Day in Virginia. To honor all the military working dogs who have served in many capacities over many years. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HJ552

VFDCB position – Support

Passed.

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HJ626 Companion Animal Protection Day.
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+HJ626

VFDCB position – Oppose

Comments: This resolution is basically a pat on the back for two strident animal rights groups û the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). These groups are basically fund raising and lobbying organizations that work to end animal agriculture, hunting, and to create as many barriers as possible to pet animal ownership and breeding.

One of the biggest arguments against this particular bill is the fact that ASPCA just agreed to settle and pay $9.3 million to Feld Corp (owners of Ringling and Barnum & Bailey circus) for malicious prosecution and for violating RICO statutes. HSUS is also a part of this suit and they could go down as well. These lawsuits have cost Feld 12 years and $20 million and it is not over yet. This case involves money laundering, hiring witnesses to lie, and much more. Just ONE of the many egregious endeavors these groups sponsor. See the links below for details.

http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/aspca-382414-ringling-elephants.html

http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/01/animal-rights-groups-vs-elephants/

Killed in House Rules Committee.

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HJ 567 VegWeek; designating last full week in April, 2013 and in each
succeeding year thereafter.
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HJ567

VFDCB position – Oppose

Comments: This is another resolution that appears benign but again adopts and endorses the animal rights agenda. Stating that people are not eating meat to prevent animal cruelty, presumes eating meat IS cruelty. While everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and motivations for their lifestyle choices, it is not appropriate for the Commonwealth to endorse the agenda the animal rights groups drape around these lifestyles.

Compassion over Killing is just another HSUS group – founded by Paul Shapiro who now works for HSUS.
http://tinyurl.com/a7dmwzt

Killed in House Rules Committee
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HB 1562 Dangerous and vicious dogs; authorizes animal control officer to apply to magistrate for summons.  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HB1562

VFDCB position – Neutral

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Control of dangerous and vicious dogs; penalties. Authorizes an animal control officer or law-enforcement officer to apply to a magistrate for a summons where the officer believes that the owner of a dangerous or vicious dog has willfully failed to comply with the law. The bill clarifies the distinctions between dangerous dogs and vicious dogs, requires the owner of either type of dog to provide basic care while confining the animal, and authorizes a court to order the owner to pay for the care of a dangerous or vicious dog while it is in state custody.

There was a Senate companion bill:

SB 828 Dangerous and vicious dogs; authorizes animal control officer to apply to magistrate for summons. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+SB828

VFDCB position – Neutral

Passed – The Senate bill was the one signed by the Governor.

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HB 1859 Rabies; local governing body to hold clinic at least once every three years.
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HB1859

VFDCB position- Neutral

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Rabies clinics. Requires a local governing body to hold a rabies clinic at least once every three years. Currently, a clinic is to be held once a year if the local government finds that the number of resident veterinarians is inadequate to meet the need for rabies vaccination

Update – Bill has been amended to require a clinic be held every two years.

Passed – not yet signed by the Governor

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HB 1893 Virginia Adoptable & Transferable Companion Animal Registry; State Veterinarian to establish website. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HB1893

VFDCB position – Neutral|

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Virginia Adoptable and Transferable Companion Animal Registry – Requires the State Veterinarian to establish and maintain a website where representatives of releasing agencies may post information on companion animals that are available for adoption by the public or transfer to other releasing agencies. The bill also provides that a governing body may require a pound that it maintains to participate in the Registry.

Comments: Something like this was proposed last year and it did not go anywhere because the State Veterinarian’s office is not looking for additional work. Also, it has a fiscal impact statement showing it will cost $124,000 to implement.

Update – The sponsor, Delegate Kory, asked for the bill to be stricken. (In other words, it is dead.)

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HB 2242 Animal abuser registration; penalties
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HB2242

VFDCB position – Oppose

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Animal abuser registration; penalties. Requires anyone 18 or older who has been convicted of a felony violation of an animal cruelty law to register with the office of the primary law-enforcement agency in the locality when he is present in Virginia for more than 10 consecutive days and to renew his registration annually for 15 years. The agency is required to collect and forward to the Attorney General the abuser’s registration information and to provide certain information to all residences, schools, animal shelters, and businesses within one-half mile of the abuser’s location. The bill requires the Attorney General to maintain a publicly accessible registry of the abusers who are required to register.

There is a fiscal impact statement that projects it will cost $174,000 a year to implement.

A similar bill was proposed in 2011- http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?111+sum+HB1930

Comments: The 2011 bill did not make it out of committee. Nevertheless we needed to oppose the current one as well.

Sportsmens’ and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance (SAOVA) has an excellent write-up on what’s wrong with these registries.
http://saova.org/ALDF_AbuserRegistry.html
An excerpt from that website – “Establishing the registry is generally an unfunded mandate with no mechanism to reimburse state departments or local law enforcement for the burden of constructing a database, maintenance, and notification requirements. Creating a new crime for failure to register involves additional costs for court and possibly correctional facility beds. Prisoners serving sentences for animal abuse represent a minute portion of prison population. Sentences being carried out in local jails and suspended sentences would not appreciably alter these ratios. Taxpayers deserve purposeful and necessary laws with justifiable associated costs. Animal abuser registry legislation, driven by emotional arguments and faulty animal rights logic, would be an irresponsible expenditure of public funds if enacted into law.”

At the request of the sponsor, Delegate Putney, the House Agriculture subcommittee tabled this bill.

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Feel free to do your own research at the Virginia legislative websites
http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm

and http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/

 

— Submitted by Alice Harrington, Legislative Liaison, VFDCB