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The Virginia House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee will be considering a number of bills on Monday, January 29, that would impact dog owners, AKC events, and certain out-of-state dog sales.

Those who reside or participate in events in Virginia are strongly encouraged to contact the committee prior to the hearing, and if possible attend the hearing to express your comments and concerns (scroll down for hearing and contact information).


The bills scheduled for a hearing include:

House Bill 646 – This bill would alter existing law by expanding the definitions of “adequate shelter” and “adequate space” to include provisions regarding tethering. The bill’s language lists conditions when tethering would not constitute a legal “shelter” and therefore not be permitted. These include when an owner if not on the property where the dog is tethered, when the temperature is at or above 85 or below 32 degrees, when there’s a heat advisory or when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning.

The bill is a one-size-fits-all attempt to stop tethering, but fails to recognize that this is a safe practice when done properly.  This bill also fails to recognize inherent differences between breeds.  Many dogs excel in cold weather activities and this bill could make it criminal to tether a dog during waterfowl hunting and sledding, which are responsible and acceptable activities.  This bill also fails to address situations when tethering is appropriate (dog shows, hunt testing, grooming).

House Bill 889 –  This bill would allow any local government to pass ordinances restricting the tethering of dogs outdoors.  Should this bill become law, it would create a checkerboard of discordant local laws and ordinances across the state. It would be unreasonable to expect dog owners to know the many differences in laws between municipal jurisdictions.

House Bill 865 – This bill would require that any pet shop or pet dealer in Virginia furnish a bond of up to $5,000 for every commercial breeder outside Virginia that provides an animal for sale.  The definition of “pet dealer” in current law is broad and vague, and it is unclear how this would apply to private breeders and owners in Virginia who sell dogs and obtain a dog from an out of state commercial breeder.  It is also assumed that “commercial breeder” refers to the Virginia definition, which is someone who maintains 30 or more adult female dogs for the primary purpose of selling their offspring.  However, since this bill applies to out of state breeders, it is unclear if this would apply to the breeder definition in their state or in Virginia.

AKC believes that this bill creates significant confusion and burden for those who source dogs from other states.  It also creates an assumption in Virginia that dogs bred in other states are automatically a cause for concern.

What You Can Do:

  • Attend the hearing on January 29 and express your comments and concerns. The hearing information is as follows:

    House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee #1 hearing
    Monday, January 29, 2018
    4:00 pm
    400-B Subcommittee Room

  • Contact the subcommittee and express your comments and concerns prior to the hearing. Visit the subcommittee’s membership page for contact information.

AKC Government Relations and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners are closely monitoring these bills.  For more information on these bills or the hearing, contact VFDCO at or or AKC GR at