The Albemarle County (Virginia) Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal on Wednesday, October 3, that makes numerous changes to their animal control laws, including restricting humane tethering and expanding what is considered cruelty in the county.
The American Kennel Club strongly believes that no dog should ever be kept in conditions where its health, safety, or well-being is compromised or at risk. However, as written, several provisions in this proposal could punish those who are treating their dogs in a humane manner and charge them with cruelty.
Those who reside or participate in shows in Albemarle County are strongly encouraged to contact the Board of Supervisors and attend the October 3 meeting (scroll down for meeting and contact information).
Proposal 18-508 reorganizes and amends the majority of the county’s animal control laws.
AKC and our state federation are primarily concerned with amendments that create such broad restrictions that someone could be charged with cruelty who is, in fact, treating their dog in a safe, humane, and appropriate manner, including:
- Tethering restrictions. Restrictions include penalties if a tether does not have a swivel on both ends or is less than 15 feet long, or if the dog is under 6 months of age. It appears these provisions would apply to tethering for any length of time, including temporary tethering while the dog’s owner is present. In addition, a dog may never be tethered for more than 2 cumulative hours in a 24-hour period, regardless of the dog’s condition, or, it appears, whether the dog is safely tethered and with the owner.
It is unclear how these restrictions could impact veterinary offices, shelters, grooming businesses, private homes, AKC and other dog events, and situations where dogs are safely and humanely tethered to be groomed or examined or to prevent them from escape or harm when there is no fence or other appropriate enclosure. It is common practice for participants in AKC dog shows, field trials, hunt tests, and other sportsmen and dog activities to temporarily tether a dog during training or events. In each of these instances, dogs can be safely and humanely tethered, often specifically to protect the dog from injury or harm.
Although one section states that if “freedom of movement would endanger the animal, temporarily and appropriately restricting movement…according to professionally accepted standards”, the proposal as written also states that any violation of any tethering requirement creates the rebuttable presumption that someone has violated the law and should be charged with cruelty. An owner would then have to prove they were not acting in a cruel manner, or risk having their animals seized.
AKC believes that instead of arbitrary restrictions, the county should instead state that animals should not be tethered outside in conditions that jeopardize a dog’s health and safety.
- Regulations regarding outdoor shelters. Under this proposal, someone would be required to provide a shelter where a dog or cat may get at least 6 hours of shade when the ambient temperature is about 80 degrees or an insulated or heated shelter when the temperature is below 32 degrees. There is no time frame, so it is unclear if this is required even when a dog is outside for a very short period of time. In addition, for some breeds, even 80 degrees is too warm to be without shade, or 32 degrees is too cold and could put the animal at risk. Once again, any perceived violation creates a rebuttable presumption that the owner has committed an act of animal cruelty and animals could be seized.
AKC believes that the arbitrary temperature requirements should be removed, and as with the tethering requirements, the county should instead require that an animal should never be left outside in conditions that would put its health or safety at risk.
What You Can Do:
AKC and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders have numerous concerns with this proposal and encourage those who reside or participate in dog events in the county to:
- Attend the hearing on Wednesday, October 3. The hearing was moved up one week, which could indicate the county may be eager to pass this law as soon as possible. It is important for the Board of Supervisors to see that there are responsible dog owners in the county who are concerned about this proposal. The meeting information is as follows:
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Regular Day Meeting
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Albemarle County Office Building, Lane Auditorium
401 McIntire Road
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
- Contact the County Board of Supervisors prior to the October 3 hearing. Let them know how this proposal would impact you as a responsible dog owner and respectfully ask that they remove the arbitrary restrictions from the proposal that would punish dog owners even if they are taking excellent care of their animals:
Send an email to email@example.com to contact the board, the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors, and County Attorney.
You may also wish to individually contact the members of the Board of Supervisors:
Rick Randolph – firstname.lastname@example.org
Diantha H. McKeel – email@example.com
Liz A. Palmer, DVM – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ned L. Gallaway – email@example.com
Ann H. Mallek – firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman G. Dill – email@example.com