2017 Legislative Priorities

Study; Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to study spay-neuter programs in the Commonwealth; report: SJ234

Patron: Senator William Stanley

Requests the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to study the availability and effectiveness of spay-neuter programs in Commonwealth.

Public animal shelters; dogs; euthanasia: SB801

Patron: Senator William Stanley

Requires a public animal shelter to notify any person or releasing agency of its intent to euthanize an abandoned dog, and to wait five days before euthanizing the dog, if the person or agency has requested the adoption or transfer of the particular animal. The shelter is not required to provide such notice if it has reason to believe that the dog has injured a human or the dog meets certain other specified conditions for euthanasia.

Pet shops; procurement of dogs from unlicensed dealers: SB852

Patron: Senator William Stanley

Prohibits any companion animal dealer who is not licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from selling any dog to a pet shop

Cats and dogs; lifetime licenses: SB856 and HB1477

Patrons: Senator Emmett Hanger and Delegate Bobby Orrock

Authorizes the governing body of a county or city to provide for a lifetime dog or cat license. The bill also removes the minimum annual tax for a dog or cat, sets the maximum tax for a lifetime license at $50, and limits the fee for a duplicate dog or cat tag to $1.

Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; landlord to inspect vacated dwelling unit for abandoned animals; penalty: SB959

Patron: Senator Lionel Spruill

Requires a landlord who knew or should have known that a dwelling unit has been vacated to inspect such dwelling unit for the presence of any abandoned animals. If an abandoned animal is discovered, the landlord is required to notify an animal control officer or law enforcement of the presence and condition of the animal but shall not be considered the owner or custodian of the animal. Bill also provides for a civil penalty of $500 for failing to comply with the inspection and notification provisions with the proceeds deposited into the Literary Fund.

Cruelty to animals; companion animals; penalty: SB1147

Patron: Senator Bill DeSteph

Changes from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony the penalty for torturing or willfully inflicting inhumane injury or pain to a companion animal, defined as a domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, or exotic or native bird. Current law requires that the animal die as a direct result of the torture or cruelty and that the companion animal is a dog or cat before the violation is a Class 6 felony.

Sale of dog or cat not obtained from releasing agency or animal rescue: SB1204 and HB2116

Patrons: Senator Lynwood Lewis and Delegate Mark Keam

Authorizes localities to adopt ordinances prohibiting the sale in a business of any dog or cat that was not obtained from a Virginia releasing agency or a nonprofit animal rescue organization.

Killing of dog or cat prohibited; penalty: SB1218

Patron: Senator William Stanley

Prohibits the humane killing of a dog or cat that is a companion animal unless the animal poses an immediate physical threat to a person or is in extreme distress and would suffer further as a result of a delay in seeking veterinary care. The bill makes a violation a Class 2 misdemeanor, with any subsequent violation a Class 6 felony. The bill exempts from the prohibition any veterinarian or other authorized person who euthanizes a companion animal under Chapter 65 (§ 3.2-6500 et seq.) of Title 3.2 of the Code of Virginia (Comprehensive Animal Care).

Care of companion animals; tethering; penalty: HB1802

Patron: Delegate John Bell

Prohibits tethering of companion animals outdoors unless the owner is outdoors within sight of the animal. A violation of this prohibition is a Class 4 misdemeanor and a second or subsequent violation is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Tethering of dogs; local ordinances: HB1877

Patron: Delegate Brenda Pogge

Authorizes the governing body of any locality to adopt ordinances limiting the amount of time during which a dog may be tethered.

Dogs running at large; civil penalty: HB1900

Patron: Delegate William Howell (Speaker of the House)

Prohibits dog owners from allowing dogs to run at large on the property of another after the landowner has given notice to the dog owner to keep the dog off of the property. The bill provides for a $100 per dog civil penalty enforced by animal control, conservation police, and other law-enforcement officers for each violation. Notice may be given verbally, in writing, with signs, or with blue tree markings.