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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.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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