Virginia Passes Tougher Animal Abuse Laws After Tommie Tragically Dies

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A tragic ending for an abused dog named Tommie was not in vain, as Virginia passed new laws in his honor that make animal cruelty a felony.

Virginia recently passed laws that increased the penalties for animal cruelty in the state, making cruel behavior, maiming, mutilating or killing a dog or a cat a felony. The law was passed just ten days after a beautiful pit bull named Tommie was found tied to a pole after being set on fire in Richmond, VA.

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The world was outraged at the treatment, and efforts to increase the punishment for such abhorrent behaviors were maximized in the legislature as a result. The new legislation introduced by Senator Bill DeSteph was not based originally on Tommie’s situation, but as the world watched Tommie’s rescue and subsequent death, legislators moved the bill through effortlessly. Many are calling it “Tommie’s Law” as a result of his death highlights the need for such punishment.

Tommie says goodnight and thank you to everyone for the love and support today. He is stable and comfortable and we are…

Posted by Richmond Animal Care and Control on Monday, February 11, 2019

Senator DeSteph said his original intent was to get justice for a dog named Sugar who had been attacked with a machete in Virginia Beach three years ago, but that the law could be named after every dog or cat ever maliciously treated.

Before the new law, only if the animal died as a direct result of torture or inhumane treatment could a suspect be faced with a felony charge. Now, it doesn’t matter if the dog lives or dies; if someone is convicted of maliciously wounding or torturing a dog or cat, they face felony charges.

I’m so very sorry to share that Tommie just passed away. He had just finished having his bandages changed and stopped…

Posted by Richmond Animal Care and Control on Friday, February 15, 2019

Richmond Animal Care and Control announced five days after he was found tied to a pole and badly burned from fire in Abner Clay Park that his body had simply given out and he’d died. At that time, the person who committed the heinous act couldn’t be charged with a felony until Tommie passed. DeSteph said that horrendous act itself was worthy of felony charges, and now, anything like that will be.

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No one has been charged with the crimes against Tommie, and the search for who did it continues. In the meantime, residents continue to pay respects and offer donations in his name to show his life, and death, was not in vain.

The law passed both chambers of legislation with not a single vote against it, and it heads to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk for final signature. The governor is expected to sign, and dogs and cats in Virginia will then find themselves under new, better and just protection against abuse and cruelty.

Rest in peace, Tommie. You will not be forgotten.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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