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.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Innsbrook Executives’ Breakfast Series continues at 7:15 a.m. at the Richmond Marriott Short Pump, 4240 Dominion Blvd. The guest speaker will be William A. Hazel, Jr., MD, secretary of health and human resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Hazel currently oversees 11 state agencies with more than 16,000 employees. Prior to his appointment, Hazel spent 22 years as an orthopedic surgeon in Herndon. Cost is $25 to $30. The series continues on the third Thursday of every month. For details, visit http://www.innsbrook.com. Full text