Lawmakers in Virginia pass law to make animal cruelty a felony

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On Wednesday, lawmakers in Virginia are set to pass a law making animal cruelty to a family pet, regardless of whether the animal lives or dies, a felony and imposing stiffer punishments for abusers.

The news comes just days after the death of a young pit bull named Tommie who captured the hearts and tears of animal lovers across the United States. Tommie had been viciously tortured and killed in Richmond. Until now, the only way to charge someone with a felony count for abusive treatment to a dog or cat depended if the animal died from its injuries.

S.B. 1604 Cruelty to Animals increases punishments:


Cruelty to animals; aggravated cruelty; penalty. Increases from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony the penalty for cruelly or unnecessarily beating, maiming, mutilating, or killing a dog or cat. Current law requires that the dog or cat die as a direct result of torture, or inhumane injury or pain, before the violation is a Class 6 felony. The bill incorporates SB 1276.

If the bill is enacted, a person who abuses a domestic pet could receive up to five years in prison. The bill also includes crimes identified as Class 1 misdemeanors  which would include “depriving any animal of necessary food, drink, shelter of emergency veterinary treatment, willfully inflicting inhumane injury to any animal, and soring an equine for any purpose.”

The legislation sponsored by Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia) has been an ongoing project for the last three years after a dog named Sugar had been attacked with a machete in Virginia Beach.

As for the tragic case involving Tommie, the dog had been tied to a fence in a park on February 10, doused with an accelerant and set on fire. He suffered burns on 40 percent of his body. Richmond Animal Care and Control, with a team of dedicated veterinary professionals, worked round-the-clock to save his life. Tommie suddenly and unexpectedly died five days later when his body just couldn’t fight anymore.


The person(s) responsible for the egregious abuse has not been found. Memorials continue to grow, and all week people have been paying their respects and donating to Tommie’s memory. A $25,000 reward has been offered for the arrest and conviction of the person who tortured this dog.

The bill passed unanimously and cleared both chambers without a vote against it. Governor Ralph Northam (D-Virginia) is expected to sign the legislation.

Rest in peace Tommie.

Read previous article here.

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Oh my, the sweetness!


7 replies
  1. R. Newton says:

    This is a start. Punishment still isnt enough. Pet love you no matter what you do to them. They need protection. More jail time and more fines. $50,000 isnt enough either. It is a start.

  2. Barkley's Mom says:

    I am glad Virginia is addressing the issue of animal abuse by making it a felony and I hope the rest of the country takes note and follows suit! Now just make the punishments severe enough to be meaningful, no more slaps on the wrist!

  3. pennysdachshunds says:

    TOMMY was So Mistreated and The Evil Bastard that torched this helpless NEEDS to FOUND and HELD ACCOUNTABLE::: Thank you VIRGINIA for FINALLY taking a STAND!!! This helps Make the HORRIFIC ENDING TOMMY SUFFERED NOT IN VAIN!!! I Still can’t get Over the Cretin that did this STILL WALKS the STREETS and LANES IN THE UNITED STATES!!! Our Country is Supposed to be one of Compassion… NEVER IN MY Life Of Becoming A Senior Citizen DID I EVER Have one IOTA our Country Would Come to THIS!!! I am not a religious person but I am a believer of Good & Evil!! We are being taken over by EVIL , The DEVIL, SATIN, or FAUST ( as My German Grandfather would Say)..

  4. Pamela Garlisch says:

    Now let’s hope that the judges and police officers of Virginia ENFORCE the laws first and give MAXIMUM sentences next!


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