ASPCA Applauds Passage of Anti-Cruelty Bill in Virginia

New Legislation Increases Penalties for Animal Cruelty
March 1, 2010

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauded the recent passage of HB 281 by the Virginia State Legislature. The bill, which passed the House of Delegates by a 93-2 vote and the Senate unanimously, increases the penalties for repeated acts of animal cruelty with regard to the care of animals by their owners and for increasing the penalty for failure to sterilize dogs and cats adopted from shelters. The bill will now go to Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell to be signed into law.

The bill increases the penalties for standards of care by the owners of companion animals upon a second offense.  The previous penalty – a Class Four Misdemeanor – was only punishable by a maximum fine of $250. The new penalty for failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter or veterinary care will be a Class Two Misdemeanor with a penalty of confinement in jail for not more than six months and/or up to a $1,000 fine or both.  Failure to provide adequate space, exercise, or care, treatment and transportation a second time is punishable by a maximum fine of $500.

"An owner who fails to provide adequate food, water, or shelter causes extreme distress and suffering to pets who are totally dependent for their care," said Ann Church, Senior Director of Government Relations for the ASPCA. "Someone who does this a second time has no excuse. The ASPCA commends Delegate David Albo (R-42nd district) for his strong leadership and continued support for humane treatment of animals."

The bill also includes another important provision which will further strengthen efforts to reduce the pet overpopulation problem.  It increases the fine for failure to spay or neuter a dog or cat adopted from an animal shelter. Current law requires these animals to be sterilized.  Failure to do so was previously only a $50, fine but under the new provisions, that fine is raised to a maximum of $250.