Last week both the President of Senate and the Speaker of the House signed SB 272 which now heads to the governor.
The governor could take action on this bill very soon. Those who reside or participate in dog events in Virginia are encouraged to contact Governor Northam to respectfully express any concerns or comments you have on SB 272 as soon as possible:
E-mail/Electronic Communication: Use the Governor’s online form
As mentioned in a previous alert, SB 272 includes language that restricts tethering:
- (a) unless the animal is safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its environment;
- (b) during the effective period for a hurricane warning or tropical storm warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service;
- (c) (1) during a heat advisory issued by a local or state authority, (2) when the actual or effective outdoor temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, or (3) during the effective period for a severe weather warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service, including a winter storm, tornado, or severe thunderstorm warning, unless an animal control officer, having inspected an animal’s individual circumstances…has determined the animal to be safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its environment.
It is very unclear how the provision regarding the animal control officer’s determination will be enforced. While it could allow for situations where a dog could be allowed outside when the temperatures are outside the range listed, it could also prove problematic. Questions have been raised, including: will someone be required to have animal control “certify” the dog meets the requirements prior to putting their dog outside, or will the determination come after someone files a complaint? There are also questions about the opportunity to appeal should the determination be inaccurate.
Further, the bill increases the current mandatory tether length from 10 feet to 15 feet except when the animal is being walked on a leash, is attached by a tether to a lead line, or when an animal control officer, having inspected an animal’s individual circumstances, has determined that a tether of at least 10 feet or three times the length of the animal, but shorter than 15 feet, makes the animal more safe, more suited, and better equipped to tolerate its environment.
AKC is grateful that legislators removed a dangerous provision that would have allowed localities to each pass their own arbitrary laws on the care of animals.
AKC and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders worked to defeat the bill in its entirety from the beginning, especially as the Commonwealth just last year passed a compromise tethering bill that better addresses all the issues raised in this bill. AKC GR thanks the VFDCB for their tireless efforts on this bill, and thanks those who took the time to contact their Delegate and Senator.
AKC and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders will continue to monitor this bill and provide more information as soon as it is available. For questions, contact AKC GR Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator Charley Hall at Charles.Hall@akc.org.