HB 340 is headed to the floor of the House of Delegates and could be voted on as early as Monday. UPDATE: The bill was passed by for the day on Friday, meaning that the second reading and debate is likely to take place Monday, Feb. 8, and delaying the House vote to Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the earliest.
Now is the time that delegates need to hear from their constituents on this issue. When contacting your delegate, please note that you live in his or her district and provide your address. You can find out who your Delegate is here http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/
When HB 340 was introduced, it would have allowed private shelters to be operated solely for the purpose of killing animals, effectively reversing last year's passage of SB 1381, which has been law since July 1, 2015. There is no political will to repeal SB 1381. Our legislators' memories are not so short to have forgotten that PETA is the one entity in Virginia that euthanizes 88 percent of the animals it is entrusted to "shelter."
The newest version of HB 340 is a substitute amendment that its proponents will tell you directs the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to adopt regulations "for evaluating whether a private shelter is meeting its required purpose of finding adoptive homes for animals." However, what the bill says has a very different meaning:
The purpose of private animal shelters has already been established by the General Assembly: the purpose of private animal shelters is to find permanent adoptive homes for animals in the shelter's care. We would support a directive for VDACS to create reasonable regulations to determine whether private animal shelters are operated in a way that is consistent with the purpose to adopt. But the proposed legislation aims instead to delay and complicate enforcement of the private shelter adoption purpose with respect to PETA. What HB 340 will do is create an expensive, time-consuming process for the state, all to benefit a single organization, giving PETA license to kill thousands of animals unnecessarily every year.
Below is a sample email for contacting your delegates. Please borrow from any of this message that is useful in expressing your opposition in your own words. Encourage your delegate's staff to open your message with a subject line that identifies you as a constituent of his or her district.
Dear Delegate [NAME],
I am writing as a resident of your district, living at [address] to ask that you oppose HB 340 as amended.
The Commonwealth’s definition of a private animal shelter now matches the common-sense expectation that animal shelters would operate with the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes for animals. However, HB 340 asks VDACS to "adopt regulations that establish the purposes of private animal shelters." Purpose is not established via regulation; the General Assembly has already defined the purpose of private shelters through legislation. HB 340 goes further to micromanage the process it calls for by forcing criteria unrelated to the adoption purpose into the regulations that VDACS must consider.
I respectfully ask that you oppose HB 340.