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The HSUS Urges Virginia Senate Not to Gut Animal Cruelty Law

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s animal cruelty law ranks as one of the best nationwide, but some state lawmakers are trying to weaken it. The Humane Society of the United States, the largest animal protection organization in the country, is calling on the Virginia state Senate to reject pending legislation that would be harmful to the Commonwealth’s animals.

S.B. 1026 (sponsored by Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Tazewell) and its companion bill in the House of Delegates, H.B. 1541 (introduced by Delegate Bobby Orrock, R- Fredericksburg), would weaken the current protections afforded for farm animals and horses under Virginia’s animal cruelty law.

Virginia law currently requires that all animals have adequate space, shelter, food, water and veterinary care. S.B. 1026/H.B. 1541 eliminates some of these basic protections for livestock and horses, and requires only that owners prevent “malnourishment” or “dehydration” of livestock and horses instead. Under the new bill, animals could potentially be severely deprived of basic necessities, and livestock and horse owners would no longer be required to provide veterinary care to prevent needless suffering.

“Virginia citizens should be outraged at this attempt by special interests to weaken long-standing protections for farm animals and horses from animal cruelty, in the guise of creating humane standards,” said Laura Donahue, Virginia state director for The HSUS. “We call upon the Senate to uphold our current cruelty laws and protect our Commonwealth’s animals by defeating this measure.”

Robin Robertson Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA adds, “The Commonwealth’s comprehensive animal cruelty law dates back to the Reagan administration and has only been strengthened over the years. This harmful legislation would poke holes in a good law, and represents a step backward.  We urge the Virginia state Senate not to allow that”

This week, the House of Delegates voted to approve the legislation despite the vocal opposition of Virginia and national animal protection organizations. The HSUS urges Sen. Patsy Ticer, D-Alexandria, chair of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, and her fellow committee members to continue Virginia’s tradition of protecting animals and to oppose this legislation when it comes to vote on Feb. 7.

Besides The HSUS and the Richmond SPCA, other national and local organizations opposing the proposed change are the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals©, National Black Farmers Association, Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, Virginia Voters for Animal Welfare, and Voices for Animals.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.