Animal cruelty charges are now felonies in Virginia

Published: Apr. 1, 2019 at 7:24 PM EDT
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There is a big legal development for animal lovers across the state. If someone is charged with abusing an animal, it is now a felony.

Some have called it "Tommie's Law" based on the torture and death of a pit bull, which was found chained to a fence and set on fire in Richmond.

Rescuers named the injured dog Tommie before it died of its injuries.

For the area's biggest animal rescue group, this loophole in the law has finally been closed.

Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA Executive Director Angie Gunter says it's about time.

"Often times an animal survives as a result of abuse by a perpetrator and they don't receive a felony because the animal lived," she said. "This changes that dynamic. Now they can be charged with a felony even if that animal lives, so this is a big help for animals everywhere in Virginia."

In the meantime, the CASPCA is undergoing a major renovation and it needs help to temporarily house some of the large dogs.

The shelter is losing about 30 kennels for a while.

April 2 is the deadline to stop by and adopt or foster a dog for a couple of weeks until the renovations are finished.