Bills regulating leaving dogs outdoors and allowing localities to arbitrarily pass laws regulating the care of dogs continue to move in Virginia. Virginia residents are strongly encouraged to contact their State Delegate and Senator TODAY and express concerns on these bills (Scroll down for contact information).
The Virginia Senate ACNR Committee recently passed Senate Bill 272 after it had been reconsidered following a 7-7-1 vote, only to pass (7-6-2) when one of the original no votes abstained. An amended version of House Bill 1552 recently passed the House ACNR committee by a slim margin. Both bills now go on to full consideration. Both bills seek to include or amend provisions that were not included in the tethering legislation that was just passed and became law last session.
While AKC appreciates that House Bill 1552 has been amended to remove language regulating the temperature in which it is appropriate for a dog to be outdoors (regardless of the dog’s breed, age, or other considerations), it still contains provisions that would disallow the tethering of any dog during a heat advisory issued by a local or state authority or during the effective period for a severe weather warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service, including a hurricane warning, tropical storm warning, or tornado warning.
Senate Bill 272 continues to include the temperature standards as well as language relating to extreme weather conditions, which does not take into account the needs or safety of different dogs.
AKC is recommending language that removes absolute temperatures and allows for discretion in adverse weather situations that would consider the needs of various breeds, age, and general health of the dog. Our suggested language is: “during any period in which a hazardous weather advisory or warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for the local area, no dog shall be left in conditions where the health and safety of the dog is at risk.” Also, we suggested an exemption be added for dogs that are with the owner, and also exemptions for either training or working in conditions that are suitable for the breed, age, and general health of the dog. This will ensure the safety and health of dogs are protected in all situations. In addition, absent such clarifications, dogs that assist with the needs of animal husbandry and public health and safety would be unable to perform the many important functions they are trained to provide especially in severe weather conditions.
Additionally, the bills both contain a dangerous provision that allow local governments to arbitrarily pass laws stricter than state law on such items as proper food, water, and veterinary care for dogs. This could result in a confusing patchwork of laws across Virginia and potentially also result in laws not in the best interest of dogs.
What You Can Do:
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Virginia are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Senate and House today. We would also encourage you to have your family, friends, and neighbors do the same.
Contact your State Senator and ask them to oppose SB 272 unless it is amended to address our concerns.
Contact your Delegate and ask them to oppose HB 1552 unless it is amended to address our concerns.
AKC Government Relations and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders continue to closely monitor these and several other bills under consideration and communicate our concerns to the members of the General Assembly. For questions or more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.