February 14, 2019
A Virginia bill that had many provisions of concern to responsible dog owners has been amended by the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.
As amended, Senate Bill 1025 no longer would allow localities to pass laws regarding animal care that are stricter than Virginia law. This provision was problematic because it could have allowed for passage of new, arbitrary or harmful local laws governing dog ownership. AKC appreciates that the committee removed this from the bill.
Other improvements via new amendments include removing problematic language regarding temporary humane tethering, and clarify that the definition of “adequate shelter” in Virginia law means having shelter appropriate to protect dogs in the heat and cold (with general provisions such as a shelter to retain body heat in the cold and is properly shaded and does not readily conduct heat in the warmer months).
The bill also requires that all tethers be 10 feet in length or three times the length of the animal (whichever is greater), unless the dog is being walked on a leash. While three times the length of the dog is current law, 10 feet is still significantly longer than what is currently required. The AKC appreciates that this is more reasonable than what was previously proposed. However, the concern remains that this contradicts current law, where a dog may not be tethered in a manner where the tether can get tangled or the dog could get caught or harmed. Agricultural animals are exempt from the tethering provisions.
Senate Bill 1025 could be considered by the House of Delegates very soon. Those who reside or participate in dog events in Virginia are encouraged to contact the House and let your representatives know that you appreciate many of the amendments in Senate Bill 1025 but remain concerned about the tether length requirement and its potential to harm dogs.
Visit the Virginia General Assembly website and type in your address to find the name and contact information for your State Delegate.
A separate bill, House Bill 1625, is still pending in the Senate and it is unclear if it will continue to advance.
AKC thanks all of the constituents who have been taking the time to contact their legislators about these bills. Your voice is making a difference!
AKC Government Relations and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders continue to closely monitor this issue and communicate our concerns to the members of the General Assembly. For questions or more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.