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.
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State Police urge motorists to #MoveOver during Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and Virginia State Police officials are urging motorists to "do what’s right when they see lights" and move over.

The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

Henrico to hold June 8 open house on Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill study

The Henrico County Planning Department will hold an open house Thursday, June 8 for residents and other members of the public to provide input for a study of the Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill areas.

The open house will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Varina Area Library, 1875 New Market Road. The meeting’s informal structure will allow the public to attend at their convenience and to ask questions and discuss the study one on one with Planning staff. > Read more.

Henrico real estate staying strong despite low inventory

The Henrico real estate market has been relatively strong for the past month, despite a lower amount of inventory, according to data from Long and Foster Real Estate.

In the past month, 408 homes have been sold in Henrico, which is 2 percent less than were sold in the same timeframe in 2016.

Last year the median sale prices for Henrico homes was $219,975, whereas this month it's up to $232,500, a 6 percent increase. Which means half of the homes in Henrico are priced above $232,500 and half are priced below. > Read more.

Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
> Read more.

State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
> Read more.

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The Richmond Moms Blog will present BLOOM, an event for new and expecting moms, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Woman’s Hospital at Henrico Doctors’, 1602 Skipwith Rd. The event will include gourmet snacks, a mocktail bar, fun photo wall, expert panel moderated by mom and news anchor Sarah Bloom, neck and shoulder massages, swag bags from local artisans and businesses and more. Tickets are $35. For details, visit http://tinyurl.com/BloomRichmond. Full text

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