The General Assembly thinks cats should be second-class citizens. It refused to pass by an 11-9 committee vote HB334, “Ernie’s Bill,” giving us protection equal to dogs.
Dognapping in Virginia is a felony worth up to 5 years in jail. But steal a cat and risk only a misdemeanor that maxes out at a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Ernie’s Bill was introduced after Carlos Marshall, who’s already a felon, stole Ernie, a 12-week-old kitten with an upper-respiratory infection, from the Richmond SPCA.
Ernie (Photo: inrich.com)
Luckily, the SPCA’s CEO, Robin Starr, and a volunteer were on the case and tracked Marshall down, retrieving Ernie by meeting Marshall at a junkyard.
Marshall says he felt sorry for the kitten but couldn’t afford the $100 adoption fee. Starr says Ernie could have died without his meds and was in pretty bad shape when they got him back.
Marshall failed to show for his original court date, which earned him 6 weekend days in jail, but this week he got 12 months – suspended – for the theft, a $250 fine, and 100 hours of community service.
We hope his community service includes lots of scooping up after St. Bernards with intestinal problems.
Ernie recovered from his traumatic kittenhood and grew into a big, handsome guy. He’s been renamed Louie and is living happily ever after, totally devoted to Rachel, the 14-year-old girl who adopted him.
Robin Starr says she’ll pursue Ernie’s Bill next year because cats are typically stolen to be used for medical research, or as bait in dogfights.
We at Cats Working support Ms. Starr and are grateful for her dedication to
Equal Rights for Cats