Combating Animal Cruelty

Combating Animal Cruelty

During the summer and fall, I heard from constituents who believe that there should be stiffer penalties for those who hurt household pets. We have seen examples of this in our community. Last summer, someone left sausages with fish hooks on Duke Street in Alexandria outside for animals to eat. Thankfully, no pets were harmed in this instance, but experts said that if an animal were to have eaten one of the sausages, it could have caused severe injury. But because no pet was hurt, the assailant could only be charged with a misdemeanor under current law. In another instance, in the Del Ray neighborhood, a man was annoyed by his neighbor’s dog barking, so he combined rat poison with meat and threw it into his neighbor’s yard. Thankfully, the dog’s owner noticed the poisoned meat before the dog did and reported the incident. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with a class 1 misdemeanor for the offense despite the clear intent to cause harm to his neighbor's dog. That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 369 to increase the penalty for harming a companion animal. 

Under current Virginia law, it is a Class 5 felony for any person to maliciously wound a farm animal, which is punishable by up to 10 years in jail or a fine of up to $2,500. 

My bill would add household pets to that category, making the malicious wounding of a companion animal also punishable by a Class 5 felony. Current law provides a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, which includes up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500. SB 369 has received unanimous approval by two Senate committees and the full Senate before it moves to the House of Delegates for its consideration. 

On other legislation related to animal welfare, Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) introduced Senate Bill 11. This bill would allow a judge to ban someone convicted of felony cruelty to animals from possessing animals for life, and ban a person convicted of misdemeanor cruelty to animals from possessing animals for a period of up to five years. Senators Jennifer Boysko (D-Herndon) and Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) have also introduced Senate Bill 93, which would give any locality in the Commonwealth the authority to establish an animal cruelty registry on their website or their local police department’s website. 

Senate Pages from District 39 

This year there are not one but two pages from the 39th Senate District. Sydney Robasson and Jada Ashun are stellar students at Francis C. Hammond Middle School and are very impressive young women both in and out of the classroom. Both Jada and Sydney were amazing applicants. I am thankful that there was room in the Senate Page Class of 2024 so that both Jada and Sydney could participate. During the legislative session, Senate Pages are tasked with helping visitors find meeting rooms, taking recycling from member’s offices, delivering items to the Senate Chamber, and many other administrative tasks. I am very proud of both Jada and Sydney and their work this session. 

It is my continued honor to represent the people of the 39th Senate District. My legislative email address is You can also reach us at our new Richmond phone number 804-698-7539.