Animal-related bills pass General Assembly

With the 2014 Virginia General Assembly session officially over, animal activists and lovers around the state can celebrate four major legislative wins.

By Jessi Gower | Capital News Service

With the 2013-2014 Virginia General Assembly session officially complete, animal activists and lovers around the state can celebrate the legislative passage animal-related bills received over the past few months.

Four bills dealing with animal/pet welfare and rights were passed this session, including the heavily talked about Senate Bill 228, which also known as Bailey’s Law.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Chapman Petersen’s, D-Fairfax, passed unanimously through the Virginia General Assembly and requires pet dealers to fully disclose all source, breeder, and health information for each animal sold. This safeguard potentially prevents people from unknowingly purchasing dogs bred in cruel and inhumane puppy mills.

Sen. David Marsden’s, D-Burke, Senate Bill 42 passed this session as well, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone in the state to erect or maintain an enclosure for the purpose of pursuing, hunting, or killing fox and/or coyote with dogs. The Humane Society of the United States’ Virginia State Director Laura Donahue released a press statement applauding the states’ legislators for passing a bill that is of upmost importance to part of Virginia’s wildlife.

“We applaud the House of Delegates for the passage of this critical bill to crack down on this cruel and inexcusable practice,” Donahue stated.

The Humane Society also was vocally supportive of House Bill 972. After five years of ongoing debate, the bill was passed this session, stating that protective orders may grant possession of the family pet to the petitioner and prohibit further violence directed toward the pet in domestic violence situations. The bill strives to not only save pets from domestic abusers but also will save victims who, before the bill’s passing, would rather suffer through abuse than leave beloved animals behind.

“As a former prosecutor of domestic violence,” chief patron of the bill, Delegate Benjamin Cline, R-Amherst, told the United States Humane Society. “I have seen firsthand the hesitation of victims to leave their abusers without their family pet. This important bill will help provide victims with the security they need to take that important step and successfully escape an abusive relationship.”

Finally, House Bill 588 also passed this session, allowing pets and owners to be buried together in the same cemetery under certain circumstances. While this bill doesn’t specifically deal with animal welfare or rights, it brings peace to many owners throughout the commonwealth that wish to be laid to rest with their pets.

While the passing of this bill is a definite win for pet owners, it also is conscious and respectful to those not wanting to be buried near deceased animals. The bill clearly specifies that owner-pet gravesites must be completely separated and segregated from the cemetery plots devoted to traditional interments.

“Some people have an extreme aversion to animals, and others have a strong affection for them,” the bill’s chief patron, Delegate Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, told The Washington Post. “There are some people who do not want pets or any furry animal buried near them, and that is their right.”

The Virginia General Assembly made great progress this session with legislations dealing with animal welfare issues. The victories that accompany the passing of these bills are made possible not only by legislators and politicians, but also by animal activists and advocates throughout the state, country and world.

“When we stand together,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO, “we can make a tremendous difference for animals.”

Photo by: julochka

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