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Virginia’s animal shelters seek support for future state list of cruelty offenders

Rebecca Barnabi

Del. Ellen Campbell, who represents Virginia’s District 36, is sponsoring a bill to establish an Animal Cruelty List in the Commonwealth.

The Rockbridge SPCA, along with bill liaison and volunteer Mona Hazera, have coordinated with Campbell on this much-needed animal advocacy effort.

The Registry will contain the names of individuals who are convicted of felony animal cruelty in Virginia.

“It will be very beneficial to animal organizations who do pet adoptions.  Right now, we keep our own list and call other shelters to inquire about their list. Having a statewide list will help shelters and rescue groups keep animals safe by being able to check the list for those convicted of animal cruelty,” Executive Director of the Rockbridge SPCA Tara Rodi said.

Campbell is working on legislation to create the list and plans to introduce it during the 2024 legislative session in Richmond when she will seek bipartisan support.

“Virginia ranks in the top tier of states for animal abuse and Veterinarins.org rank Virginia number 5 on data collected 2012-2021 and the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranked Virginia number 15 in 2022.  Further, the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit identifies a direct link between animal cruelty and human violence. The FBI started collecting data on animal cruelty crimes and added it to the Nation Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS),” Mona Hazera said.

Animal advocates in Virginia are encouraged to contact their Delegate and Senator to support the Animal Cruelty List or contact the Rockbridge SPCA by visiting their website and sign up and support the legislation.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.