In February 2011, the Virginia General Assembly quietly passed legislation weakening state animal cruelty penalties from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a
Class 4 misdemeanor to “ensure accommodation for customary farming activities” including withholding food and water from farmed animals to
the point of emaciation and dehydration. An amendment that would have allowed “prosecution of a person for depriving an agricultural animal of
necessary food, drink, shelter or emergency veterinary treatment” was withdrawn by VA Senator McEashin, who proposed it. When UPC learned about
the legislation in February, we conducted a vigorous Internet campaign urging Gov. Robert McDonnell to veto the bills, but he signed them into law.