McDonnell amends bill on breed-based euthanasia in shelters

Edited by Chris Graham

Gov. Bob McDonnell has amended a bill passed by the General Assembly to insert a prohibition banning breed-based killing of dogs in the Commonwealth.

McDonnell, as attorney general, issued in 2006 a formal opinion that public animal shelters could not euthanize dogs based solely on breed. A bill introduced this session to codify McDonnell’s opinion into state law, HB 429 patroned by House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith was narrowly defeated in the House Agriculture Subcommittee.

During the bill-review period the governor decided to take the language of Griffith’s bill and insert it as an amendment to HB 281, patroned by Delegate Dave Albo (R-Springfield), which was a successful bill increasing the penalties for animal cruelty in Virginia.

The Governor’s amendment will add the following language: “No pound may euthanize, or prohibit the adoption of, any dog based solely on breed…”

“No dog should be euthanized solely because of their breed,” McDonnell said today. “As attorney general I issued an opinion that this practice was not legal under Virginia law. However, there have continued to be questions regarding this matter. Therefore it is important that legislation be passed making it the clear law of the Commonwealth that no dog can be euthanized solely because of their breed. This is a humane amendment, and I urge the members of the General Assembly to accept it when they return next Wednesday.”

“The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies supports efforts to eliminate breed discrimination,” said Virginia Kilmer, president of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies. “If enacted into law, the amendment to HB 281 will compel the few remaining public shelters that kill solely because of breed to end the euthanasia of otherwise healthy, happy and completely adoptable animals and truly change the future for all sheltered animals in Virginia.”

Other groups that have publicly supported this measure are The Virginia Animal Control Association, the Virginia Dog Breeders Association, the Richmond SPCA, the National Federation of Humane Societies, Henrico Humane Society, Ring Dog Rescue, Animal Rescue of Tidewater, Loudoun Shelter Watch, Virginia Voters for Animal Welfare, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the Charlottesville SPCA, the Humane Society of Franklin County and the Floyd County Humane Society.

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