Troubling animal shelter bills fixed

February 11, 2020

Three problematic and potentially expensive bills pertaining to animal shelter practices and policies have been effectively fixed for the year.

SB 304 (Stanley) requires any public or private animal shelter or releasing agency to report on an annual basis the euthanasia rate for animals at such shelter or agency to the State Veterinarian. As originally introduced, the bill sought to require the State Veterinarian to notify the Board of Pharmacy of any such shelter that has a euthanasia rate greater than 50 percent and prohibit the Board of Pharmacy from registering any such shelter to purchase, possess, or administer certain euthanasia drugs.  VACo initially opposed this legislation, however Senator Bill Stanley ultimately agreed to strip the possible penalties and instead introduced a substitute that solely requires shelters to report data on the number of acts of euthanasia performed and the reasons why.  As amended, SB 304 reported out of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee unanimously.

SB 310 (Stanley) requires a public animal shelter to wait three days before euthanizing a dog or cat when a person has notified the shelter of his intent to adopt or take custody of the animal. The shelter must make reasonable efforts to accomplish the release of the animal but is not required to hold the animal if it has reason to believe that the animal has seriously injured a human or the animal meets certain other specified conditions for euthanasia.  VACo and several other stakeholders opposed the bill as introduced due to its high fiscal impact on localities.  Recognizing these concerns, however, Senator Stanley agreed to strip the three-day requirement from the legislation and instead offered a substitute bill that simply requires each public animal shelter to adopt a policy that provides that when notice has been given to the shelter of the intent of a releasing agency to adopt or take custody of an animal, the animal shall not be euthanized and shall be kept for a certain number of days.  With this substitute language, SB 310 reported out of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee unanimously.

Finally, HB 1279 (O’Quinn) sought to increase from five to 10 the number of days an animal confined by a public or private animal shelter or releasing agency shall be kept prior to disposal of the animal unless claimed by the rightful owner. The bill also increases from five to 10 the number of additional days such animal shall be held if the owner or custodian of the shelter determines that the animal has a collar, tag, license, tattoo, or other form of identification.  Due to the fiscal impact this legislation would have had on localities, VACo opposed HB 1729. Ultimately, the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee decided to lay the bill on the table and will not consider it again.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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