PETA LOBBIES TO MAINTAIN ITS KILL SHELTER IN VIRGINIA
In Virginia, private animal shelters operate solely to find permanent homes for animals. No special provisions. As plain as can be, private animal shelters must find homes for the animals they take in. That means no needless killing. This used to be an especially common practice in Virginia, or at least at one particular shelter run by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Over 75% of all animals taken in by the animal rights organization’s Norfolk-based shelter were put down, regardless of health situations. In response to PETA’s harmful actions against cats and dogs, Virginia lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1381 last year, which clearly defined animal shelters as stated above. PETA fought hard to derail this bill, but to no avail; it passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate. PETA could not accept the outcome, however. SB 1381 was a stain on the group’s reputation in the state of Virginia. Now they are fighting to essentially repeal the measure. They dispatched lobbyists to the state, where they convinced Virginia Delegate Bobby Orrock to introduce multiple bills that would negate the authorities granted by SB 1381. Through the influence of those lobbyists, two of those bills, House Bill 157 and House Bill 340, passed in the House and are now being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. House Bill 340 affects regulations of private animal shelters. Essentially, it strips these shelters of the requirement to find animals homes, giving them complete discretion to kill as they please. House Bill 157 removes power from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the agency in charge of enforcing Senate Bill 1381. By eliminating the department’s ability to oversee shelters and enforce regulations (even if a shelter violates existing regulations), this bill outright endorses the killing of thousands of animals. The notion that these bills would even make it out of the House is absurd. As is the case with many politicians, a bill is only as good as what it can do for their image. Last year, when SB 1381 passed, it was in direct response to a scandal that occurred involving two PETA employees who kidnapped a family’s pet Chihuahua and euthanized it. As an opportunity to benefit from the negative publicity surrounding PETA, many legislators completely supported the bill. Almost a year later, with a chance to reinforce that message and deny PETA the opportunity to rise above the law, the House failed in their duty to prevent future injustices. It is now up to this Senate committee to right a wrong. If you live in Virginia, please contact your legislator and tell him/her that the lives of thousands of cats and dogs are in their hands. They MUST strike down these measures. Find your delegate and his/her contact information here.