A bill to increase penalties on animal abusers in Virginia has passed out of committee and could be headed for state house and senate floor votes soon. The bill, SB 1604, would make “cruelly and unnecessarily beating, maiming, mutilating, or killing a dog or cat,” a Class 6 felony. The bill was introduced by Virginia State Sen. Bill R. DeSteph, Jr. (R) of Virginia Beach.
The penalty for such actions now is only a misdemeanor and as written, current regulations require that an animal die from the abuse or torture in order for the offender to be charged with a felony. The animal must also be a companion cat or dog, leaving other animals, like community cats, unprotected.
We’re excited to see this change proposed and support passage of the law. Abuse or torture of animals is an extremely serious offence, and it shouldn’t take an animal victim paying the ultimate price in order for human abusers to be held sufficiently accountable.
Take for example Hardy, the cat we helped recover from terrible abuse in early 2018. He’d had his ears, tail, and all four paws mutilated. He was in dire condition when he was found outside and required immediate and costly veterinary intervention to be saved. Under the current regulation, our successful efforts to save Hardy could actually lessen the abuser’s offence in the eyes of the law.
Striking animals, tethering them outside in poor weather, neglecting their care, or dumping them when they’re no longer wanted are all forms of animal abuse. Unfortunately, the laws in our country are somewhat of a patchwork and can vary greatly from state-to-state and between jurisdictions. To see the animal cruelty laws on the books in your state, check out the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s database. There you’ll find a summary and specifics of your state’s laws and how it ranks in comparison to others. To learn more about animal cruelty, its forms, and why it happens, visit our site here.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.