RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - People in Virginia will soon face harsher punishments for animal abuse just days after a dog in Richmond was cruelly killed.
On Wednesday, Senate bill 1604 passed the house with a unanimous 99-0 vote. The bill will increase the penalty for cruelly or unnecessarily beating, maiming, mutilating, or killing a dog or cat from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony.
“I don’t think the outcome should matter on this, if you beat or torture a dog it’s a heinous act, and it leads to other heinous acts which should be a felony," said Senator Bill DeSteph, 8th District.
The bill was introduced two years ago by Senator Bill DeSteph, and its purpose was to protect animals that go through abuse – whether they live or die.
Currently, the dog or cat needed to die before the crime was a felony. The new bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
“What this does is harshens the penalty based on the act. The act of beating or torturing a dog is a felony. So we do it on the act, not the outcome,” the senator told us.
The passing comes as the Richmond community mourns the death of Tommie, a dog that was tied to a pole and set on fire at Abner Clay Park. He later died.
Statement from DeSteph on Wednesday: