Recently, Governor Northam signed SB 272/HB 1552 into law. The new rules regarding tethering will take effect on July 1, 2020.
As mentioned in a previous alert, this bill contains language that sets absolute temperatures and weather conditions language, along with a new (and unclear) provision that would allow an animal control officer to assess a situation and determine the ability of a dog to handle conditions outside these parameters.
While we believe the change will allow for situations where a dog could be allowed outside when temperatures are outside the range prescribed (85 degrees or higher – 32 degrees or lower), or in other extreme weather conditions, it is unclear how the provisions will be applied. Will it be complaint-driven or will an owner have to have the dog certified to handle such conditions? And, how will disputes between the owner and an animal control officer be handled if they disagree on the dog’s ability to handle the temperature or weather conditions?
AKC and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders worked hard to defeat the bill in its entirety from the beginning, especially as the Commonwealth just last year passed a compromise tethering bill that better addressed all the issues raised in this bill. We are grateful that a problematic provision was removed that would have allowed Virginia localities to each pass their own laws
Now that the bill has been signed into law, AKC and the VFDCB will be monitoring how the bill’s provision is applied. For questions, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.