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February 4, 2019

A Virginia Senate committee is expected to consider a bill as early as Thursday (February 7) that would amend the state’s tethering laws.

The AKC appreciates that, unlike other tethering bills considered this session, this bill does not regulate tethering based on specific temperature ranges or allow localities to pass even stricter laws on animal care.

However, the bill still requires that a tether be at least 15 feet or four times the length of the dog, whichever is greater.  AKC is concerned that this could cause harm to the animal and encourages the committee to amend this provision.

Visit the Virginia General Assembly website and type in your address to find the name and contact information for your State Senator.

Summary:

As passed by the House, HB 1827 would in part require that all tethers be at least 15 feet in length or four times the length of the dog, whichever is greater (unless the dog is being walked on a leash).

Current law already requires that a tether allow an animal to stand, sit, turn around and lie down.  It also requires that the animal have a properly applied collar, harness, etc. that will prevent the tether from getting tangled and ensure the animal will not get strangled or injured.  It also states that when freedom of movement could endanger the animal, the owner is permitted to restrict movement.

However, House Bill 1827 would seem to contradict current protections for animals by arbitrarily requiring that all tethers be 15 feet long or four times the length of the dog (whichever is longer).  It does not appear to provide for situations where new requirements could endanger animals by allowing them to wander into a public areas or harmful situations resulting in strangulation. In addition, it is unclear whether tethering under this bill would include instances when owners are grooming their dogs outside on a grooming table, in which case this tether length could cause significant injury to the dog.

What You Can Do:

All who reside or participate in outdoor dog events in Virginia are encouraged to contact the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.  The bill could be heard as soon as Thursday, February 7.

Committee contact information:

Senator Richard Stuart, Chair:  district28@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.: district24@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr.: district15@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Mark D. Obenshain: district26@senate.virginia.gov
Senator J. Chapman Petersen: district34@senate.virginia.gov
Senator David W. Marsden: district37@senate.virginia.gov
Senator William M. Stanley, Jr.: district20@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Richard H. Black: district13@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Adam P. Ebbin: district30@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr.: district06@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Ben Chafin: district38@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Rosalyn Dance: district16@senate.virginia.gov
Senator David Suetterlein: district19@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Monty Mason: district01@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Jennifer McClellan: district09@senate.virginia.gov

AKC Government Relations and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders continue to closely monitor this and all bills on this issue, and communicate our concerns to the members of the General Assembly.  For questions or more information, contact doglaw@akc.org.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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