At a recent meeting, the Waynesboro (VA) City Council heard a presentation from the City Manager regarding proposed amendments to City Code Chapter 14, “Animals” – including a provision that would limit the number of animals that may be kept or maintained on any property.
Much of Chapter 14 of Waynesboro’s City Code was written in 1964 and sections were amended or updated in 1996 and 2007. The proposed amendments seek to accomplish a needed comprehensive update and bring the Chapter into conformance with the Code of Virginia. However, while the Code of Virginia does not include a limit on the number of dogs or cats one may keep, the proposal provides that:
“It shall be unlawful for any person to keep or harbor more than four dogs and or 5 five cats over four months of age, not to exceed a total of 7 animals, in or on the premises of any dwelling unit or on an unimproved lot within the City, unless authorized by a permit issued by the animal control officer. Such permit may be issued only if the animal control officer finds that exceptional circumstances exist for such period of time specified in the permit.” Exemptions are provided for dogs and cats on any parcel allowing for agriculture uses by zoning and farms.
It is further stated that dogs and cats currently owned in the City shall not be “grandfathered” or permitted to remain after the effective date of this Section; however; owners of these animals will have ninety (90) days from the effective date to come into compliance with this Section.
While the intent of the proposal seems to ensure that animal owners are not a nuisance and disturbance to neighbors, the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not believe that arbitrarily limiting the number of animals will address issues caused by irresponsible dog ownership – regardless of the number of dogs on a property.
Moreover, because this proposal does not have a grandfather clause, it creates a hardship for those owners who currently own more dogs than the proposal allows. Additionally, the proposal is harmful to those dogs that need to be removed by their owner as they will be forced to face an uncertain future. This proposal will also adversely impact shelters and rescues by increasing the number of dogs at the facilities and limiting the placement opportunities for those dogs at the facilities.
For more talking points and information on this issue, visit the Limit Laws key issue page in the AKC Legislative Action Center.
What You Can Do:
Attend the next City Council Meeting and respectfully share your comments and concerns. Although City Council has stated the proposed ordinance is under review for possible action at the September 27, 2021 meeting, the Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 13, 2021.
Members of the public may comment by following the approved guidelines. Use this form to submit written comments which will be shared with Council Members if received by 5:00pm the day of the meeting. The meeting details are as follows:
Waynesboro City Council Meeting
Monday, September 13 and September 27, 2021 – 7:00pm
503 West Main Street
For questions or more information, contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.