Bills before the Virginia State Legislation NOW

HB5 Gas chambers; prohibits use thereof for euthanizing companion
animals (Orrock) — House Ag Com.

Self explanatory

HB32 * Fighting of cocks and other animals; increases penalty (Ingram)
— House Ag Com.

Increases the penalty for offenses connected with the fighting of
cocks from a class 3 to a class 1 misdemeanor. Adds a new offense
‘possessing, owning, or training’ cocks for the purpose of fighting.

HB40 Gas chambers; prohibits use thereof for animal euthanasia (James
Scott) — House Ag Com.

Self explanatory

HB207 ‘+’ Animal pounds, local; clarifies definition (Morgan) — House
Ag Com.

This makes clear that a pound (a shelter with a contract to provide
required animal control services) can be PART of a facility, not
necessarily an entire facility. (Some pounds are housed in four
cages rented from an area vet …)

HB217 ‘***’ Tethering of animals; makes certain acts associated
therewith Class 3 misdemeanor (Alexander) — House Ag Com.

Defines ‘adequate space’ to include a two-finger fit of the collar,
requires that tethered animals be kept from gaining access to public
thoroughfares, and that the tether be at least 10′ or three times the
length of the animal whichever is greater.

Also adds the following:

> § 3.1-796.68:1. Prohibitions on tethering; penalty.
> A. It is unlawful for any person to tether any animal:
> 1. That is less than six months of age, except briefly in case of
> emergency;
> 2. That is not spayed or neutered, except briefly in case of
> emergency;
> 3. Using a tether weighing more than the animal’s weight can
> reasonably bear in the opinion of an animal control officer or
> third-party expert;
> 4. Without adequate space, shelter and other care as defined in §
> 3.1-796.66;
> 5. When temperatures are greater than 85 degrees, or lower than 25
> degrees Fahrenheit;
> 6. In wet weather unless a fully enclosed and ventilated dry shelter
> is available; or
> 7. If space is inadequate to establish separate areas for eating or
> sleeping and defecation or urination.
> B. Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty
> of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
> § 3.1-796.68:2. Localities may adopt tethering ordinance; penalty.
> A. Beginning January 1, 2008, any locality may by ordinance regulate
> the tethering of animals. If adopted, such an ordinance may be more
> restrictive than the provisions of subsection A of § 3.1-796.68:1.
> In addition, the ordinance may prescribe the hours during which
> tethering is prohibited and may prohibit tethering as the primary
> means of confinement.
> B. The governing body may provide that any person who violates the
> provisions of such ordinance is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

HB306 ++ Animal control officers; training (Eisenberg) — House Ag

Increases training by requiring it to be given within one year after
starting work (instead of two) and requiring 20 hours additional
training every year rather than 15 hours every three years.

HB334 ** Cats; Class 5 felony to steal (McClellan) — House C of J

Adds cats to a list of animals (including dogs) the theft of which is
a class 5 felony. (Penalty for class 5 felony is 1-10 years in prison
or if the case is tried without a jury, up to 12 months in jail and/or
a fine of up to $2500.)

HB457 +++ Veterinarian & animal licensure; repeals requirement to
provide treasurer with rabies vaccination information. (Merricks) —
House Ag Com.

This would repeal § 3.1-796.87:1 thus ending the requirement that
veterinarians provide local authorities with copies of rabies
vaccination certificates.

HB464 *** Humane investigators; appointment by circuit court (Albo) —
House Ag Com. [TABLED BY HOUSE AG COM., 1/15]

This bill would restart the humane investigator program by allowing
certification and appointment of new investigators.

HB533 * Driving with an animal (Mathieson) — House Trans. Com.

> § 46.2-811.1. Driving with animal impeding control prohibited.
> No person shall operate any motor vehicle on the highways of the
> Commonwealth with an animal on his lap nor shall he permit an animal
> to impede his free access to and use of vehicle controls or to
> obstruct his vision.

Gee … talk about micromanagement.

HB537 + Rabies vaccination certificates; exempts records sent to local
treasurers from public access (Orrock) — House Ag Com.

This would eliminate public access to rabies vaccination info sent to
local licensing authorities except for info that is contained in
dog license records. Rabies certificate copies sent to local
authorities would have to be destroyed when no longer needed.

HB538 *** Commercial dog breeding operations (Orrock) — House Ag Com.

This bill would define as a ‘commercial breeder’ “any person who
breeds dogs as companion animals and who maintains 20 or more
unsterilized adult females for the purpose of commercial breeding
during any 12-month period.” Commercial breeders would be limited to
50 dogs max, would have to be licensed and inspected, keep specific
records, facilities would have to meet certain fire safety standards
and there would be other restrictions.

HB655 ++ Dangerous dogs; judicial discretion (Griffith) — House Ag

This adds the following to the definition of ‘dangerous dog’ in §

> No dog that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person
> shall be found to be a dangerous dog if the court determines, based
> on the evidence before it, that the dog is not otherwise dangerous
> or a threat to the community.

HB656 ** Animal protection and fighting (Griffith) — House Ag Com.

This broadens Virginia’s anti-dog fighting law to cover any animal.

It adds a variation on the increasingly common ‘surety bond’
provision. No more than 10 business days from the date of seizure
there will be a hearing to make a preliminary determination of whether
the animal has been used or intended for use in animal fighting.

If you want to contest the charges (rather than plead guilty) you will
be required to post a ‘surety bond.’ Such bonds are actually
prepayment at a rate that is typically $10/day for the care of your
animals by a pound while your case is tried. Prepayment is in
nine-month chunks, so for ten dogs you need to find $27,000 or your
dogs are gone. If you sign over your dogs, you still have to go to
trial and you won’t get them back, even if you are found not guilty.
However you DO get your bond back if you pay but are found not guilty.

There are additional provisions.

HB673 *** Animal welfare standards (Alexander) — House Ag Com.

This bill changes a number of definitions in § 3.1-796.66.

The definition of ‘abandon’ is changed to reduce the period of failure
to provide care from five days to 24 hours.

The definition of ‘adequate shelter is changed to require that “if
an animal is tethered, adequate shelter means a shelter large enough
to provide separate eating and resting areas, both of which are at
least 10 feet from a toilet area.” Also, wire floored enclosures
would no longer be allowed.

The definition of ‘adequate space’ is changed to require that a tether
be “no more than 1/8th of the weight of the animal, and at least
20 times the length of the animal …”

The definition of ‘adequate water’ is changed to require constant
access to water that is refreshed whenever depleted, and is in
containers that cannot be overturned.

The definition of ‘adoption’ is changed to include the transfer of
ownership of any companion animal from a dealer to an individual.

HB690 ** Commercial breeding of companion animals (Armstrong) — House
Ag Com.

This basically would require USDA dealers to also get a license from
their localities. The license would cost $150; anyone having one would
have to allow animal control to inspect if there is a complaint or at
any other time during daytime hours.

HB691 *** Animal control officers; inspection of breeding facilities
(Armstrong) — House Ag Com.

Requires local ACOs to inspect ‘dealers’ who breed companion animals
four times yearly … but read all of the following to see the full
meaning of this.

> § 3.1-796.104. Animal control officers; powers and duties. [In part]

> The animal control officer shall make quarterly inspections of any
> premises in his jurisdiction where dealers breed companion animals.
> The animal control officer shall ensure that dealers comply with
> state and federal standards for sanitation, licensure, and adequate
> care.

Remember that in Virginia law, the definition of ‘dealer’ is:

> “Dealer” means any person who in the regular course of business for
> compensation or profit buys, sells, transfers, exchanges, or barters
> companion animals.

This is being interpreted in some VA localities as including hobby

HB 691 definitely gets the 2008 ‘Creativity in billwriting’ award.

HB999 *** Bond for abandoned or cruelly treated animals (Bell) —
House Ag Com.

In current Virginia law a locality may enact an ordinance requiring
an owner of an animal held for more than 30 days to post a so-called
surety bond — actually, prepayment (usually at an extremely high
rate) of care at the animal shelter. This bill would reduce the time
to 15 days and REQUIRE that localities collect this prepayment, unless
the court determines that it would be a financial hardship for the

HB1057 * Cockfighting; penalty (James M. Scott) — House Ag Com.

Increases penalty for fighting of cocks to a class 6 felony, adds lots
of new ways to be guilty, like permitting a minor under 18 to do it or
possessing any device or substance intended to enhance an animal’s
ability to fight.

HB1080 ** Income tax credits for the care, protection, and adoption of
certain animals (Suit) — House Finance

This would give a tax credit of up to $50/procedure for veterinarians
who do “any medical procedure at no cost” on animals that have been
held in a pound or shelter.

It would also give a tax credit of up to $50/adoption to persons
adopting animals from pound or non-profit shelter.

There are no limits on the per individual tax credit.

HB1232 *** Overbreeding of cats and dogs; penalty (Vanderhye) — House
Ag Com.

Here’s the punch line:

> Any dealer that breeds more than 20 litters of dogs or cats, or
> sells more than 100 dogs or cats, in any year shall be guilty of a
> Class 3 misdemeanor.

Senator Ticer, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is
co-patron of this bill.

HB1267 ** Income tax credit; veterinarian pro bono services tax credit
and companion animal (Hull) — House Finance

This would give a tax credit of up to $50/procedure for veterinarians
who do “spaying, neutering, euthanasia or other routine or emergency
services or procedures at no cost on animals that have been held in a
pound” [or non-profit shelter, rescue, etc.] up to a maximum of

It would also give a tax credit of up to $100/adoption, maximum two
adoptions in a year to persons adopting animals from pound or
non-profit shelter.

Both credits are limited to the actual tax liability. The
veterinarian’s provision is exempt from the Administrative Process
Act; I believe that one consequence is that no regulations need be

These credits are retroactive to any tax year beginning on or after
January 1, 2007.

HB1289 Use of gas chambers for animal euthanasia prohibited (Athey) —
House Ag Com.

Self explanatory.

HB1331 + Revision of Title 3.1; Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services (Landes) — House Ag Com.

This bill completely revises and reorganizes Title 3.1 of the Code of
Virginia which, among other things, contains the Virginia
Comprehensive Animal Laws. This sort of overhaul is a good idea; over
time any large body of code comes to have ‘bugs,’ variations in usage,
and such. There SHOULD be no changes in meaning, but we’ll have to
read this from end to end to be sure.

Yep, the WHOLE THING. ‘Cause the committees sure aren’t going to read
it, and once this bill passes, whatever’s there, will be the law. It
won’t go into effect until October 1 but if there are problems it
would be a lot better to find them now, while they can simply be
amended away.

The Comprehensive Animal Laws are almost at the very bottom of the
page linked above.

HB1365 ** Income tax credit; animal adoption fee tax credit (Cline) —
House Finance

This would give a tax credit of up to $100/adoption, maximum one
adoption in a year to persons adopting animals from pound or
non-profit shelter. The credit is limited to the actual tax liability
and must be taken for the taxable year in which the animal is adopted.

HB1465 * Dogfighting; violations include attending such fights
(Armstrong, Griffith, Moran) — Pending

This adds attending a dog fight and possession of ‘any device or
substance intended to train a dog for fighting or enhance a dog’s
ability to fight’ to the list of felony offenses. There are numerous
other changes.

HB1486 *** Dealer permits; local ordinances pertaining to real estate
taxes for euthanizing (Athey)

In Virginia, ‘companion animal’ can be anything that anyone thinks is
a pet. ‘Dealer’ is defined:

> “Dealer” means any person who in the regular course of business for
> compensation or profit buys, sells, transfers, exchanges, or barters
> companion animals.

This is increasingly being interpreted as including hobbyists and a
couple of localities have passed dealer licensing ordinances as
already allowed by the law. This bill would REQUIRE localities to
license all “dealers in companion animals.” However the language is
deceptive … do take a look.

HB1570 *** Companion animals; sterilization; penalty (Hull)

Think ‘California AB 1634 for Virginia’ — but this one gets
commercial sellers too.

Animal pounds, shelters, and rescue groups are already required to
sterilize animals when sold, either prior to sale or by contract with
the buyer for sterilization at a later time. This bill adds ‘dealers’
to that list.

Failure to comply would allow the state veterinarian or a court to
void the sale. Both buyer and seller would be fined $150. There are a
number of specific requirements for the pet sales contract.

The three kinds of ‘good’ breeders who would be exempt from the
mandatory spay/neuter requirement are defined as follows:

1. “‘Breed improver’ means a person who: (i) breeds working dogs, show
dogs, and hunting dogs or cats of specific breeds, not as a source of
income, but to perpetuate the breed or eliminate physical shortcomings
and disease, or who could otherwise demonstrate a conscious and
deliberate plan of breed improvement; and (iii) adheres to the
American Kennel Club’s 22 responsible breeding steps, United Kennel
Club’s breeders code of ethics, American Working Dog Federation’s
constitution and bylaws, or a substantially similar code of ethics or
Cat Fanciers’ Association breed standards.”

2. “‘Fancier breeder’ means a person who: (i) regularly shows or
competes at competitions sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, the
United Kennel Club, the American Working Dog Federation and their
member clubs, or the Cat Fanciers’ Association and their sanctioned
competitions, or similar organizations for rare breed dogs and cats;
and (ii) adheres to the American Kennel Club’s 22 responsible breeding
steps, United Kennel Club’s breeders code of ethics, American Working
Dog Federation’s constitution and bylaws, or a substantially similar
code of ethics or Cat Fanciers’ Association breed standards.”

3. “‘Hobby breeder’ means a person who wishes to breed and then will
find homes for one litter, but not for profit.”

Fraudulently claiming to be one of the above would get you a fine of

If this bill could work as written, it would shift Virginia to
importing a large fraction of its dogs and cats. In the real world the
result would be that a large fraction of our pet owners and nearly all
non-commercial breeders would be in violation of the law.

HJ163 * Study; companion animals; report (Saxon) — House Rules

Establishes a joint subcommittee of the Senate and House of Delegates
to “study issues relating to companion animals.” The findings
(whereas’s) at the start include an estimate of 2,784,880 companion
animals in VA, that some owners abuse and neglect their animals, that
shelters euthanized close to 100,000 out of 230,000 entering animals
in 2006, and that violent dogs and dogfighting are addressed in laws.

The committee would have six legislative members: four Delegates, two
Senators, two nonlegislative citizen members appointed by the Speaker
of the House, one citizen appointed by the Senate Rules Committee, and
the State Veterinarian; in all, ten members.

The committee is to meet four times during 2008. A majority of either
the Senators or Delegates on the committee may kill any

SB26 * Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act; adds
organized dogfighting as a RICO offense (Reynolds) — Sen. C of J.

This very short bill jacks the penalties for dog fighting up to the
level of murder and rape by adding dog fighting to Virginia’s
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, intended to
deal with drug dealing, prostitution rings, and the like.

SB438 ** Character education; humane education (Vogel) — Sen. Ed. &

This just adds to a law requiring character education in schools the
following provision:

> Character education may also include aspects of humane education,
> including compassion and responsibility in the treatment of
> companion animals.

SB498 Gas chambers (Northam) — Senate Ag.

Self explanatory.

SB592 * Animal protection and fighting; penalty (Norment) — Senate

On a quick read this is identical to (same bill as) HB 656.

SB637 * Required reporting of child abuse; animal control officers
(Sen. Ticer, Dels. Marsden, J.M. Scott, Watts) — Senate Rehab. & SS.

Adds animal control officers to the list of persons required to report
that a child is abused or neglected to authorities.

SB663 *** Local fees for companion animals (Blevins) — Senate Ag.

1. Requires that localities license cats as well as dogs. In current
law, cat licensing is at the option of the locality.

2. Requires that localities impound cats as well as dogs if found
running at large without the required tag or in violation of a locally
adopted ordinance. (“Cat leash law.”)

3. Raises the maximum license tax for dogs and cats from $10 to $25.

4. Adds an additional fee of not “more than $50 for the first
impoundment of a cat or dog; $75 for the second impoundment of such
animal; and $100 for each instance thereafter” to the actual expenses
of keeping an impounded animal.

5. At present, owners must either bury or cremate dead animals or
fowl. If they fail to do so, the locality may do it for them and
charge them not more than $75/animal, $5/fowl. This allows localities
to adopt ordinances permitting an owner to request the services of an
officer or other person designated to bury or cremate a dead animal or
fowl and changes the charges from $75 to actual costs plus a
reasonable fee.

SJ69 ** Humane Treatment for Companion Animals Education Week. (Vogel,
Edwards, Quayle) — Senate Rules

> RESOLVED … That the General Assembly designate the first full week
> in February, in 2008 and in each succeeding year, as Humane
> Education Week in Virginia and encourage the Department of Education
> to require that all public schools in Virginia participate in the
> week. The Department of Education shall advise all public school
> divisions that they are currently permitted to provide appropriate
> instruction regarding the humane treatment of animals and animal
> safety utilizing volunteers and external materials. The Department
> of Education is requested to ascertain the best educational
> practices and programs currently employed by school divisions in the
> Commonwealth to improve animal safety and the humane treatment of
> animals;