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The Virginia Senate ACNR Companion Animals Sub-Committee is scheduled to consider Senate Bill 272 TOMORROW (Thursday, January 30).

This is the Senate version of House Bill 1552 we alerted you on yesterday.  Thanks to all of you who took the time to contact the House Agriculture Subcommittee on that bill.  We now ask that you contact the Senate ACNR Companion Animals Subcommittee TODAY (scroll down for contact information).

Like House Bill 1552, Senate Bill 272 seeks to modify or include provisions that were not included in tethering legislation that just passed and became law last session.  This attempt to revisit last year’s approved legislation could create several significant problems for dogs and dog owners in Virginia, including unreasonable tethering laws that could actually hurt dogs, yet another attempt at adding tethering based on temperature and weather conditions, and a very concerning new provision that would allow local governments to pass new, stricter laws on basic standards of animal care including food, water, exercise and veterinary treatments.

Those who reside or participate in dog events in Virginia are strongly encouraged to contact the Sub-Committee members today.  Tell them the bill will not actually help dogs in the Commonwealth and encourage them to allow Chapter 848 time to take effect and finally not allow Senate Bill 272 to pass.

Summary:

Senate Bill 272 contains two sections that have the potential to be problematic for dogs and Virginia dog owners:

  • Tethering provisions that could actually harm dogs – Under this bill, tethering of an animal does not meet the requirement that an animal be given adequate shelter if it occurs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except when the animal is engaged in conduct related to an agricultural activity;  when no owner is on the property; when the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, or 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; during a heat advisory; or during a severe weather warning.   Further, it seeks to change the approved length of the tether from last year’s approved length of at least three times the length of the animal or 10 feet in length, whichever is greater, to a provision requiring that all tethers be 15 feet long or four times the length of the dog (a provision which AKC and our federation, along with sportsmen successfully had removed last year).  Such an increase will only lead to greater opportunity for entanglement and other conditions that could potentially cause harmful situations for the dog.
  • Expansion of authority of local governments to pass new laws on basic animal care – Virginia local governments are already permitted to pass stricter laws on certain issues including dog licensing, rabies vaccinations, animal shelter regulations, etc.

Senate Bill 272 seeks to include a provision that would allow for the expansion of local government authority to pass new arbitrary laws on basic animal care which is language that was not included in the final version of Chapter 848.  Such a provision would allow localities to pass their own laws on basic needs such as water, food, exercise, and veterinary care as long as the laws are AT LEAST as strict as Virginia law.  Current Virginia code simply states that all owners must provide these basic needs, but does not provide specifics, as each animal and situation is different.  This new provision could result in an inconsistent and confusing patchwork of animal care laws across the commonwealth.  It could also result in laws that may not be appropriate for all dogs in all situations.

Other Bills Under Consideration in Tomorrow’s Hearing:

The subcommittee is considering several other bills in tomorrow’s hearing, including:

  • Senate Bill 891, which directs the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt comprehensive regulations on the keeping of dogs by any commercial dog breeder (defined in current law as any person who maintains 30 or more adult female dogs for the purpose of breeding), dealer, pet shop, or private or public animal shelter. Regulations are to require an annual $25 registration by every regulated person or facility, twice yearly inspections, and may establish standards that apply only to a particular category of regulated entity.  It also directs the State Veterinarian to convene a technical advisory committee of those who may be impacted.  AKC is closely monitoring this bill, and should it advance, will work to ensure appropriate representation on this advisory committee.
  • Senate Bill 337 which would require the establishment of a registry of those convicted of animal cruelty. The State Police may remove names after 15 years if there is no further offense.


What You Can Do:

Contact the Virginia Senate ACNR Companion Animal Subcommittee prior to its hearing TOMORROW, January 30, at 9am:

Sen. David Marsden, Chair
Phone: (804) 698-7537
Email: district37@senate.virginia.gov

Sen. Barbara Favola
Phone: (804) 698-7531
Email: district31@senate.virginia.gov

Sen. Todd Pillion
Phone: (804) 698-7540
Email: district40@senate.virginia.gov

AKC Government Relations and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders continue to closely monitor these and several other bills under consideration and communicate our concerns to the members of the General Assembly.  For questions or more information, contact doglaw@akc.org.

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