We have many more opportunities to help animals through legislation in the Virginia General Assembly than we have the resources to do so. Humane Dominion is hard at work this summer organizing our Legislative Leaders Program, identifying legislative champions and prioritizing issues for the next legislative term, beginning in January 2021. Before finalizing our agenda, we reached out to you, our supporters, for your ideas on which initiatives are most important.
Not surprisingly, our respondents felt strongly that legislation to shut down the sale of puppy mill puppies and better regulating large farm animal operations were most important. Supporters also feel that we should do a better job supporting Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) programs for outdoor cats and push for non-lethal management methods for wildlife. We couldn’t agree more!
Supporters also voiced strong support for stronger anti-tethering legislation. As you know, we have been successful in the past two legislative sessions in restricting the tethering of dogs but have not been able to gain enough legislative traction yet for an outright ban. When I think about dogs, who are such social creatures, living out their lives at the end of a chain, alone, in a dirty yard, it breaks my heart. We need to do better by them and get all Virginia dogs off chains!
Other priorities suggested by our respondents include a ban on tail-docking of cattle, the use of leghold traps and roadside zoos, protection for pet owners in rental housing, banning hunting with dogs, ending testing on animals, providing mental health resources for people convicted of animal cruelty, speeding up the end of fox-penning, enacting a law to provide for a conviction of animal abuse registry (one was introduced last year but pulled by the patron before action) and reclassifying horses so they are not “livestock” and could gain better protections.
Legislators will be limited to a maximum of 15 bills this session (last session some legislators dropped over 40 bills!) so getting their attention and letting them know we have strong support behind the bills we chose will be critical.
I hope you’ll sign up to become a supporter if you’re not one already. Each voice matters so much when it is channeled with others to let legislators know we are organized and committed to do what it takes to make Virginia a better world for animals in 2021.
Please join us by signing up to be a Legislative Leader, liking our Facebook page and Twitter feed to get up-to-the-minute information on legislation and becoming a supporter of Humane Dominion at whatever level is most comfortable for you.
See you at the General Assembly!