Update on the 2015 Virginia Legislature’s Actions
During the Virginia General Assembly’s 2015 session, several controversial bills addressing pet cats were considered. We sent our members two action alerts about bills that would legalize the practice of “trap, neuter and release” (TNR) and encourage feral cat colonies. These bills were bad for birds and cats because they essentially legitimized outdoor cat "colonies" and allowed people in so-called “community cats” programs to introduce free-roaming, non-native predators to the environment and release people of ownership. Under current law, this is considered to be abandonment of an animal and is a misdemeanor.
We are pleased to report that all the bills failed. Three bills failed in committee, but one Senate bill passed the full Senate. It then failed in a House of Delegates' subcommittee. Thank s to everyone who contacted their legislators about this important conservation issue. Your action helped!
We’d also like to acknowledge and thank the one senator from northern Virginia who voted against the bill: Senator J. Chapman Petersen of the 34th district in Fairfax.
Given the apparently intense interest in these bills this year, we should expect them to resurface in future session of the General Assembly.
Further action you can take:
- Keep your cats indoors
- Share the science: After habitat loss the greatest threat to bird populations is free-roaming cats according to the Department of the Interior’s 2014 State of the Birds Report. For more science related to the impact of free roaming cats on bird populations, visit the American Bird Conservancy’s website www.abcbirds.org
- Encourage your local jurisdictions and homeowners associations to initiate public education programs to keep cats safe indoors.
- Ask candidates for public office their position on free-roaming, unowned cats. Urge them to oppose measures that support feral cat colonies.