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The Virginia House ACNR Agriculture Sub-Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 1552 tomorrow which seeks to modify or include provisions that were not included in tethering legislation that just passed and became law last session.  This attempt to revisit last year’s approved legislation could create several significant problems for dogs and dog owners in Virginia, including unreasonable tethering laws that could actually hurt dogs, yet another attempt at adding tethering based on temperature and weather conditions and a very concerning new provision that would allow local governments to pass new, stricter laws on basic standards of animal care including food, water, exercise and veterinary treatments.

Those who reside or participate in dog events in Virginia are strongly encouraged to contact the Sub-Committee members today.  Tell them the bill will not actually help dogs in the Commonwealth, and encourage them to allow Chapter 848 time to take effect and finally not allow House Bill 1552 to pass.

Summary:

House Bill 1552 contains two sections that have the potential to be problematic for dogs and Virginia dog owners:

Tethering provisions that could actually harm dogs – Under this bill,  tethering of an animal does not meet the requirement that an animal be given adequate shelter if it occurs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except when the animal is engaged in conduct related to an agricultural activity;  when no owner is on the property; when the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, or 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; during a heat advisory; or during a severe weather warning.   Further, it seeks to change the approved length of the tether from last year’s approved length of at least three times the length of the animal or 10 feet in length, whichever is greater, to a provision requiring that all tethers be 15 feet long or four times the length of the dog (a provision which AKC and our federation, along with sportsmen successfully had removed last year).  Such an increase will only lead to greater opportunity for entanglement and other conditions that could potentially cause harmful situations for the dog.

Expansion of authority of local governments to pass new laws on basic animal care – Virginia local governments are already permitted to pass stricter laws on certain issues including dog licensing, rabies vaccinations, animal shelter regulations, etc.

House Bill 1552 seeks to include a provision that would allow for the expansion of local government authority to pass new arbitrary laws on basic animal care which is language that was not included in the final version of Chapter 848.  Such a provision would allow localities to pass their own laws on basic needs such as water, food, exercise, and veterinary care as long as the laws are AT LEAST as strict as Virginia law.  Current Virginia code simply states that all owners must provide these basic needs, but does not provide specifics, as each animal and situation is different.  This new provision could result in an inconsistent and confusing patchwork of animal care laws across the commonwealth.  It could also result in laws that may not be appropriate for all dogs in all situations.

Another Bill Under Consideration Limits Consumer Choice and Protection:

Among other bills being considered tomorrow is House Bill 1480, which would allow any locality to regulate or restrict the acquisition, marketing, and sale of animals in a pet shop as defined in Section 3.2-6500.  Allowing a locality to further regulate, restrict or, worse, enact more stringent provisions than the Commonwealth on a pet store, consumers could be limited to getting a dog of unknown background and unknown health and temperament history.  Many people may wish to purchase a quality, purpose-bred pet and may not have access to a local breeder and wish to purchase a dog from a regulated, licensed pet store where they can still get the consumer protections, the health history, and ongoing professional relationships they desire.

When people cannot obtain a pet that is the right fit for their lifestyle, that pet is more likely to end up in a shelter. Read AKC’s position on pet choice.

What You Can Do:
Contact the Virginia House ACNR Agriculture Subcommittee prior to its hearing TOMORROW, January 29, at 4pm:

Del. Wendy Gooditis, Chair
Phone: (804) 698-1010
Email: DelWGooditis@house.virginia.gov

Del. Roslyn Tyler
Phone: (804) 698-1075
Email: DelRTyler@house.virginia.gov

Del. Mark Keam
Phone: (804) 698-1035
Email: DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov

Del. Joshua Cole
Phone: (804) 698-1028
Email: DelJCole@house.virginia.gov

Del. Sally Hudson
Phone: (804) 698-1057
Email: DelSHudson@house.virginia.gov

Del. Daniel Marshall III
Phone: (804) 698-1014
Email: DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov

Del. Charles Poindexter
Phone: (804) 698-1009
Email: DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov

Del. Tony Wilt
Phone: (804) 698-1026
Email: DelTWilt@house.virginia.gov

Del. Kenneth Plum
Phone: (804) 698-1036
Email: DelKPlum@house.virginia.gov

AKC Government Relations and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders continue to closely monitor this bill 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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