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The AKC understands that the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee is expected to consider a bill this week 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. 

This bill is identical to the bills considered yesterday in the House.  Thanks to your e-mails and phone calls, and the work of the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders, the House committee voted to table the bills for the year and will likely not reconsider them. 

All who reside or participate in events in Virginia are encouraged to contact the Senate committee prior to the January 21 afternoon hearing and express any comments or concerns you have with Senate Bill 9.  Also, respectfully let them know that the House has already tabled these bills for the year due to numerous concerns (Click on the link and then on the members’ names to view committee phone numbers and e-mail addresses).

Summary and Talking Points:

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, Senate Bill 9 could lead to lost dogs, property damage, and other unintended consequences.

Like the House bills, SB 9 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 or Sharyn Hutchins, Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Legislative Liaisons, at aharrington4832@verizon.net or sharyn@timbreblue.com.  You may also contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org
 

The AKC understands that the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee is expected to consider a bill this week 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.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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