On Thursday, the ceremony dedicated to signing Tommie’s Law took place at the Capitol. This law considers all animal cruelty indictments in Virginia to be a felony.
The new rule increases the punishment from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 crime, and imprisonment of maximum five years. And also, there is a financial penalty of a maximum of $2,500. This law ended the usage of a loophole which made possible for the perpetrator to go with a misdemeanor charge in case the animal lived through the abuse.
Earlier this year, this law was approved without opposition by the Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates prior to passing it to the governor.
Namely, this bill was introduced by Senator Bill DeSteph previously this year, after he had heard of a dog whose name was “Sugar.” In 2016, the dog was located in Virginia Beach with horrible injuries after the owner ostensibly hit her with a machete. Since Sugar recovered from the attack and didn’t die, the arrested owner ended up with a Class-1 misdemeanor.
Even though Sugar’s case was the one that started the more severe animal cruelty charges, the law was named “Tommie’s Law.” It bears the name of pit bull Tommie who was tied to a pole in a Richmond Park in February and purposely set on fire. Due to injuries, Tommie died after five days.
An employee of Richmond Animal Care and Control, Robin Young, said that she thought Tommie’s case helped people see the worst cases that animal control could see.
The new bill has been effective since Monday, July 1.