Humane societies have mixed success at Assembly
Virginia’s animal welfare groups have had both successes and setbacks this legislative session, and the past week reflected that mixed record for the fighters for the furry, the feathery and the leathery.
First, a House subcommittee tabled a top priority for the commonwealth's animal advocates: a bill allowing humane societies and animal shelters to trap, vaccinate and sterilize feral cats before releasing them back into the wild.
Senate Bill 359, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, had the support of animal welfare groups throughout Virginia. On its “Every Life is Precious” blog, the Richmond SPCA said the measure “would save the lives of countless feral cats.”
Patrick Cole, director of communications and outreach for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, also expressed enthusiasm for the bill. He said the league has been planning to start its own trap, neuter and release program.
“With time, we hope to effectively reduce the population of feral cats, including the number of kittens that are brought to the animal shelter,” Cole said. “The TNR program would also increase public safety, as we will vaccinate cats for rabies before releasing them.”
The Senate had passed Deeds’ bill, 31-8. But it was killed Feb. 27 by the agriculture subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.
The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies was disappointed by that action. Yet the next day the group howled with joy when the Senate joined the House in unanimously passing a resolution designating every Feb. 28 as Spay Day in Virginia.
House Joint Resolution 143, sponsored by Delegate David Englin, D-Alexandria, says the designation “will promote recognition of the importance of spaying or neutering dogs and cats to keep the pet population under control and prevent the unnecessary euthanization of animals.”
SB 359 and HJ 143 were among about a dozen legislative priorities that the VFHS had for the General Assembly’s 2012 session, which ends Saturday.
On the one hand, the federation successfully opposed such bills as:
• HB 311, allowing hunters to always use dogs during bear season. It was tabled by a subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.
• HB 342, allowing landowners to authorize other people to kill deer and bear that might damage their property. Consideration of this bill was postponed until 2013.
On the other hand, several bills supported by the VFHS never made it out of committee. They included:
• SB 477, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to “privately possess, sell, transfer, or breed dangerous wild animals,” such as tigers, bears, elephants, monkeys, boa constrictors and alligators. The bill would allow only facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to keep these animals.
• HB 158, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone, including a veterinarian, to perform “a surgical devocalization on a cat or dog when such procedure is not necessary to treat or relieve an illness, disease, or injury or to correct a congenital abnormality.”
• HB 888, which would have authorized any local government to adopt ordinances regulating the “tethering of companion animals” – notably the chaining of dogs.
• HB 695, which would have outlawed erecting or maintaining a pen or other enclosure for the purpose of having dogs pursue, hunt or kill a fox or coyote.
Lawmakers agreed to consider HB 158 and SB 477 during the 2013 legislative session.
Henrico County Recreation and Parks will present “Red, White, and Lights” at Meadow Farm Museum/Crump Park July 4.
Henrico County has hosted a Fourth of July celebration annually since 1981, but this year’s event will offer a later start time and expanded hours and be highlighted by new entertainment.
The free event will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will feature the Richmond Symphony, a laser-light show, patriotic performances, and family activities. > Read more.
The Tuckahoe Family YMCA and ReEstablish Richmond will host the third-annual Refugee Community Resource Fair Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to noon at the YMCA, 9211 Patterson Avenue in Henrico. The event is designed to provide refugees in the region information about jobs, local businesses, housing, health care, education and more.
As part of its strategic plan, the YMCA of Greater Richmond works to identify, address and eliminate economic, geographic and cultural barriers. > Read more.
Muse Paintbar, which combines painting instruction with a wine bar and restaurant, opened June 23 at The Shops at Willow Lawn in Henrico. The location is the company's 17th nationwide.
Guests can learn from local artists while sampling a wide selection of wine, beer and tapas. The facility held a soft-launch last weekend, allowing patrons a sneak peek at the studio’s artistic offerings.
Muse anticipates expansion across the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area this summer. Other locations are spread throughout the Northeast. > Read more.
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