Last summer, I wrote a blog post titled “A Needless and Indefensible Death in Carroll County” about a dog whom we and others tried to save but who was put to death for no valid reason by local officials in Galax and Carroll County, Virginia. It was a tragedy since we and other responsible organizations had offered to take this dog, who we came to learn was named Molly, into our care but the local government officials decided to kill her anyway with no explanation whatsoever.
As sometimes happens, this tragic event resulted in a bill being sponsored in the Virginia General Assembly. It is now called Molly’s Bill and its patron is Senator Bill Stanley, who has proven himself time and again to be a true and dedicated friend to animals in need. Senator Stanley recognized that it is unacceptable for public shelters to arbitrarily decide to end an innocent animal’s life when there are solid and reputable people or organizations willing and able to save that life.
Molly had killed a chicken but had never done any harm to a person or another animal. As I said in my June blog post about her story, “While none of us is comfortable with a dog killing a chicken or any other animal for that matter, anyone who has worked in animal welfare for long knows that this behavior is not uncommon for dogs and can happen easily if the dog is in a rural location and his guardians do not put in place measures to prevent the dog from free roaming. Such an occurrence does not mean that the dog will be aggressive toward people or toward other dogs.” That local bureaucrats went right ahead and killed Molly even though I and others were in frequent and direct communication with them pleading for her life and offering to take her out of their shelter immediately was horrifying.
Molly’s Bill would prevent public shelters from taking similar action to what was done to Molly. They would not be permitted to refuse to transfer or adopt a dog or cat to a Virginia resident or to an organization wanting to take that dog or cat into their care. It provides reasonable exceptions for dogs that have inflicted serious injury on a person or who otherwise fall under sections of the Virginia Code authorizing the euthanasia of the animal.
Molly’s Bill is Senate Bill 801 and I hope you will urge your Senator to vote in favor of it. This would be especially important for you to do promptly if your Senator serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee [find committee membership here] where it will be heard on Thursday afternoon. It will not be considered for a while in the House of Delegates assuming that we are able to get it through the Senate, which is where it is right now.
Your help on this bill could make a big difference for the next helpless dog or cat like Molly who could be saved from euthanasia by a responsible person or organization. It is too late for precious Molly but this bill that bears her name, if it becomes law, would prevent her death from having been in vain.
UPDATE: On Thursday, Jan. 19, SB 801 was reported out of the Senate Agriculture committee and referred to Finance. The bill is on the agenda for Senate Finance on Wednesday, Jan. 25. If your Senator serves on the finance committee, we urge you to call or email before the 9 a.m. meeting as a constituent who supports Molly's bill. Find the committee membership here. To find out your district and who your Senator is, visit http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ and enter the address where you are registered to vote.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.