General Assembly 2013 has begun and the proposed animal welfare bills are listed below under Current Legislation along with the VFHS position on those bills.
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Through the General Assembly website, citizens can track the status of any pending legislation.
The General Assembly also offers a toll-free hotline during its annual legislative session that provides citizens with the opportunity to express their views on the issues before the General Assembly. The hotline makes it possible for vital information to the members of the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia concerning public opinion on matters before the General Assembly.
The number for the toll-free hotline is: 1-800-889-0229. Callers in the Richmond area may dial: 225-4973.
During each legislative workday, the hotline receives calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Calls are answered by hotline operators who request the constituent to provide a name and address, a geographic location or legislative district, the designated legislator(s) to receive the constituent's message and the issue on which the constituent is expressing his or her opinion. The operators record the messages and forward the information to the legislators for their review. If the caller seeks additional information concerning legislation or wishes to speak directly with the legislator, the operator will provide the appropriate telephone number.
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VFHS Members and Contributors,Here is an update on the 2013 Animal Welfare Legislation:HB1859 - Rabies Vaccination ClinicsVFHS took No Position.The language was changed on line 34 to read: "However, the county or city shall ensure that a clinic is conducted to serve its jurisdiction at least once every two years. It looks like this bill will be going through with that change.Note that this is worded such that if your organization already conducts rabies vaccination clinics, you may want to contact your municipality to see if they would financially support your organization to hold the clinics required under this law in order to meet their requirement.HB1562 - Dangerous Dogs/Vicious DogsVFHS Supported.This bill splits the code sections more distinctly and defines more clearly the dangerous dog statutes vs vicious dog statutes. Lines 128-136 were deleted.HB1863 - Dangerous Dogs/Local OrdinanceVFHS Opposed.This bill attempted to add the dangerous dog statutes to the sections of code that delegates authority to localities to set up their own more specific ordinances.The House Ag Subcommittee passed this bill over. This will not be acted on this year; hopefully it also won't return next year.HB1893 - Adoption and Transfer Companion Animal RegistryVFHS Supported.This bill requires ACO's to register animals for adoption or transfer. A fiscal impact statement of $125,000 a year was attached to it by VDACS.I spoke with Delegate Kory's office and proposed they look at sources of income to offset the cost or look at directing them to use Petfinder as a free website already created for this purpose. It goes to House Ag Subcommittee on Monday, January 28th. Delegate Kory's office said they would contact me to let me know if the want to modify the bill to try to find a way to get it to pass. It will not pass with the fiscal impact unless they identify funding for it.______________________________________________________________________HB1562This fall, while we participated in the animal welfare work groups, we had the opportunity to bring up concerns with the Dangerous and Vicious Dog regulations with other organizations involved in animal welfare, especially VACA. With the assistance of our VFHS Board Member, Michelle Welch from the Attorney General's Office, we modified and clarified the dangerous/vicious state code. We did not get everything we asked for, but we believe the changes help to clarify the distinction between dangerous and vicious so that when cases go to court, dogs are not sentenced to death due to confusion of the terms. These changes are represented in HB1562, Dangerous Dogs Bill.Here is the link: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HB1562Here is what this legislation does:1. It splits and clarifies the definitions of "dangerous' and "vicious" to make them clearer because the courts were confusing the two.2. It also gives more specific definitions of dangerous and vicious, but excludes animals acting in defense or out of pain....etc. from vicious3. It gives the ACO the authority to seize a dog if owners do not comply with the law (VACA's request), but the ACO cannot act further without a decision of the court.4. It allows the court to hold owners liable for reasonable expenses5. It extends the days to comply with requirements when dogs are found dangerous to up to 45 days because people having trouble meeting deadlines6. The enclosure section was very difficult to get agreement on and we ended up only being able to document that it must meet section 3.2-6503 where it is already defined.HB1863That brings us to House Bill 1863.The bill is Patroned by Delegate Roxann Robinson and we don't know the origin of it yet, but this bill works to undermine the work that just went into HB1562, because it gives full authority to localities to adopt stricter legislation on dangerous and vicious dogs. Our concern is that this is a very tricky piece of legislation that can easily cost a dog its life and to leave it to localities to alter undermines the work taken by organizations involved in the process working together to improve the legislation. We are concerned that this will allow localities to put a death penalty on dogs that don't deserve it.Here is the link: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+sum+HB1863It is our plan to oppose HB1863 and support HB1562, but we would also like to solicit your input and feedback.
Comprehensive Animal Care Laws (CACL) Work Group:House Bill 1893 (Kory), Virginia Adoptable & Transferable Companion Animal Registry; Veterinarian to establish website. This bill would establish an on-line registry where Virginia releasing agencies could voluntarily post information concerning animals available for adoption or transfer.The full text can be viewed at:
VFHS is participating in the companion animal work group along with other organizations such as VACA, the Farm Bureau, VACO, VVMA and VAAS. VDACS is heading up the group, which is looking at sections of the state code as it relates to animal welfare in order to update and clarify the language. Topics that are currently being looked at are listed below:
1. Veterinarian reporting for dog licenses
A meeting was held on November 9th to review sections 3.2-6529 and 2.3-6534. There had been complaints by Treasurers in various localities about the amount of work involved in using the Veterinarian reported information to send out notices for dog licenses. The group included input from the Treasurer's office and representatives from Loudon and Roanoke localities and the group agreed unanimously that there was no desire to eliminate the statute, but that we should look for ways to make the process less labor intensive and costly as well as more effective. Under consideration is to add language to section 3.2-6534 that would allow some of the revenues to go to the Treasurer's offices to pay for the administrative costs of the mandate. The other consideration as it relates to the statute is to recommend that the licensing fees be changed to allow the localities to set the fees rather than the current minimum of $1 and maximum of $10. Other recommendations were discussed to reduce processing costs, which would not be part of the statute, but will be included in the recommendations to the Governor.
2. Feral Cats
The December work group meeting will focus on feral cats and will attempt to finalize a definition and changes or additions to state code as it relates to feral cats and TNR. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meetings. The next meeting will be held on December 4th from 1-4 pm at the Farm Bureau Headquarters in Richmond.
Dangerous Animals Initiative Work Group:
The dangerous animals work group continues to work on legislation to expand the list of animals currently restricted from pet ownership. Current discussion is focused on primates. The meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is Tuesday, November 13th at 10 am -3 pm at the VHDA (Virginia Housing and Development Authority) Center 4224 Cox Rd, Glen Allen, VA.
VFHS is also currently working with VACA and other groups on revisions to the Dangerous and Vicious Dogs section of the state code. Drafted language changes are under consideration and review and will be posted for comment when ready.