Dangerous dogs; clarifies definition, etc. (HB2381)

Introduced By

Del. Matt Fariss (R-Rustburg)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Dangerous dogs. Removes the requirement that a law-enforcement officer or animal control officer apply for a summons requiring a dog owner to appear before a general district court when the officer has reason to believe that the dog is dangerous. In the case of a dog that has bitten a cat or dog, the bill requires investigation by an officer for certain exemptions from the definition of "dangerous dog" to apply and removes an exemption for good cause as determined by a court. In the case of a dog that has bitten a person, the bill creates an exemption when an investigating officer finds that the injury is minor and allows a court to use good cause as a reason to determine that a dog is not dangerous. The bill also reduces from 45 days to 30 days the period within which (i) an owner of a dog found to be dangerous is required to obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate and (ii) a convicted owner of a dangerous dog is required to comply with certain provisions. The bill contains technical amendments. Amends § 3.2-6540, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Passed

History

DateAction
01/17/2017Presented and ordered printed 17103592D
01/17/2017Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
01/23/2017Assigned ACNR sub: Agriculture
01/26/2017Impact statement from DPB (HB2381)
01/30/2017Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment (7-Y 0-N)
02/01/2017Reported from Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources with amendment (21-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/02/2017Read first time
02/03/2017Read second time
02/03/2017Committee amendment agreed to
02/03/2017Engrossed by House as amended HB2381E
02/03/2017Printed as engrossed 17103592D-E
02/03/2017Impact statement from DPB (HB2381E)
02/06/2017Read third time and passed House BLOCK VOTE (97-Y 0-N)
02/06/2017VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (97-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2017Constitutional reading dispensed
02/07/2017Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
02/16/2017Reported from Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/20/2017Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/21/2017Read third time
02/21/2017Reconsideration of Senate passage agreed to by Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/21/2017Passed Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/24/2017Enrolled
02/24/2017Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB2381ER)
02/24/2017Signed by Speaker
02/24/2017Signed by President
02/27/2017Impact statement from DPB (HB2381ER)
02/28/2017Enrolled Bill communicated to Governor on 2/28/17
02/28/2017G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017
03/13/2017G Approved by Governor-Chapter 396 (effective 7/1/17)
03/13/2017G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0396)

Video

This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 1 minute.

Transcript

This is a transcript of the video clips in which this bill is discussed.

RICHMOND AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THE STATE BOARD COMPLIED WITH THAT AND AS PART OF AN APPENDIX ON DECEMBER 1ST, THEY LISTED 151 REPORTS THAT OUR LOCAL SCHOOL DIVISIONS HAVE TO SEND TO RICHMOND OR WASHINGTON EVERY YEAR. ABOUT A DOZEN OF THOSE CAN BE ELIMINATED. EACH YEAR WHEN THEY DO THAT, WHEN THEY PUBLISH THAT REPORT, THEY NEED TO INDICATE WHY THE REPORT IS NEEDED AND TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS AS THEY MAY BE ABLE TO TAKE TO ELIMINATE THE NECESSARY REPORTS, AND THAT THOSE ARE PROVIDED BY DIFFERENT PROVISIONS OF THE VIRGINIA CODE, WE COULD ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY REPORTS. THIS IS NOT JUST THE RED TAPE ELIMINATION EXERCISE, THE DATA TAKES THE TIME OF TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS, AND ADD MINUTE -- ADMINISTRATORS, I HOPE IT'S THE WILL OF THE BODY TO PASS IT ON TO THE THIRD READING. TURN TO PAGE 21 OF THE

Comments

Mary D. Devoy writes:

Virginia dogs that bite people or another animal “deserve the benefit of the doubt” according to Delegate Matthew Farris and the entire Virginia Legislature based on their unanimous votes for 2017’s HB2381 which is now headed to Governor McAuliffe’s desk.

Delegate Fariss wants fewer dogs to be placed on the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry with this Bill.

Unlike the Virginia State Police Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry, the Dangerous Dog Registry has only had 3 follow-up pieces of Legislation (4 counting Delegate Farris’) since it was established. Whereas per the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission from 2005 to 2016 the average number of “Sex Offender” Bills proposed at each VA General Assembly is 41.9.

HB2381 gives local Animal Control Officers the discretion to determine if they think a dog (or cat) should be considered dangerous or not based on “single nip or bite resulting only in a scratch, abrasion, or other minor injury”.

Currently Animal Control Officers must summon the offending dog’s owner to appear in General District Court for them to explain why their animal should not be considered dangerous. If the court does rule the dog is a danger then the owner has 45 days to obtain a dangerous-dog certificate, Farris’ Bill will reduce that time-frame to 30 days.

During the House Agriculture Committee debate on HB2381 a representative from the VA Animal Control Association told the Committee members “We want to be able to give officers that discretion to look at the entire totality of each individual situation”.

That sounds reasonable, right?

Every situation, every case, every dog is different and a one-size-fits-all law that sweeps them all together to be publicly listed as “dangerous” will lead to low-risk and even no-risk dogs (and their owners) being wrongly stigmatized. A dangerous dog is going to cause fear and perhaps even hate within the community and we should be certain that’s not happening with dogs who pose no threat, right?

So why is it that we deny such discretion for people in Virginia?

In Virginia the majority of crimes against children and sex crimes have mandatory minimum sentences, which allows the Prosecutors to stack charges, to be selective with their plea deals and to usually avoid a trial with more than 94% of criminal cases being settled by a plea. In these cases Virginia judges have no discretion to consider the specific facts of the case or the history and character of the person charged, the minimum sentence is written into Virginia Code our judges are not permitted to give the-benefit-of-the-doubt in cases of a low or a no-risk offender.

Virginia Code also states that no plea deal for a crime that requires registration as a Sex Offender can include avoiding the registration, it’s mandatory.

People who are charged with a crime against a child or a sex crime in Virginia have no options; there is no flexibility for them or for the judge, only for the Prosecutor.

For 9 Virginia General Assembly sessions I have opposed myth-based and hate-driven legislation directed towards those who are already on the VSP Sex Offender Registry and for those who will one day be listed. I have been advocating for data-driven laws and to allow discretion in each case, classification and duration of registration and so far no reform has been taken seriously.

But this year Virginia Legislators have unanimously agreed that dogs deserve the-benefit-of-the-doubt and that each individual situation for dogs should be considered before State registration is deemed appropriate.

Yet people in Virginia can not and will not be given the same consideration or options that we are about to give to our animals.

Somehow our priorities and the foundation of justice being served have been flipped in the Commonwealth with 2017’s HB2381.

So before anyone cheers for the passage of HB2381 ask yourself why Virginia’s Legislators have intentionally made it impossible for people to get fair and balanced consideration when accused of a “heinous act” but they all believe latitude is needed for dogs.