Subcommittee endorses bill to quarantine rabid animals

Press release

 The House Criminal Laws Subcommittee on Jan. 28 unanimously endorsed a bill patroned by Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) to ensure that an owner properly quarantines a potentially rabid dog or cat.

House Bill 1573 would require an owner to quarantine a dog or cat after receiving an order or agreeing to do so pursuant to an animal confinement agreement.  If the animal thereafter strayed from the premises, the owner could be fined.  If the animal strayed from the premises and attacked a person or another companion animal, the owner could face misdemeanor criminal charges.

“This bill was brought to me after a dog in Fluvanna County attacked a high school student who lived next door.  The owner had been ordered to quarantine the dog, but he let it run loose. After the attack, the dog was tested and found to be rabid,” Bell said. “A rabid dog is more likely to attack, and when it does the injuries are more dangerous. To prevent these risks, we need to make sure that rabid dogs are properly restrained.”

When the bill was presented in Richmond, the subcommittee heard testimony from the student’s father, Richard Schmack, who described the attack and his daughter’s substantial injuries.  Additional testimony was provided by Fluvanna Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip and Captain David Wells from the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office.

The bill passed 7-0 and will next be taken up by the full Courts of Justice Committee.

“I am hopeful the bill will pass the House and be sent on to the Senate for consideration,” Bell said.

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