Virginia Legislature Weighs Bills Affecting Animal Welfare

An outpouring of opposition helped defeat a bill in the Virginia General Assembly that would have impeded the confiscation of animals found suffering in inhumane conditions at poorly run zoos. HB 2331 would have required notifying the state veterinarian before the seizure of an exhibit animal could take place—a step that is not currently required. Not only would this have added an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, it was also acknowledged in the bill’s legislative summary that the state veterinarian’s office does not have expertise in the area of “zoological medicine and USDA Animal Welfare Act regulations.” Virginia is a leader in enforcing its anti-cruelty laws. Abused animals must be removed from their abusers as quickly as possible; the only ones who would have benefited from HB 2331 would have been those who fear being held accountable for their mistreatment of animals.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill in February that requires certain research and testing facilities to post their USDA annual reports and inspection reports on their websites. Animal testing facilities affiliated with institutions of higher education are further required to notify their parent institutions of any “critical noncompliance” of the federal Animal Welfare Act for which they are cited. (Earlier versions of the bills would have required facilities to file an annual report with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs detailing the total number of animals used for research, testing, or education.) This legislation follows enactment last year of several new laws placing conditions on the sale of dogs and cats, including for use in research. These laws were in part responses to the USDA’s abysmal failure to end the suffering of animals at a facility in Virginia that bred beagles for use in research.

Share This!