Governor Northam Signs Protection Bills For Dogs

Virtual ceremony held

In a signing ceremony, held virtually, and streamed from his State Capitol office, Governor Ralph Northam officially signed stronger protections for tethered dogs into law on Aug. 17.

In his remarks before penning his signature, Northam said, “We do need to treat our pets humanely; having pets on a tether, especially in extreme heat and cold is not a good thing; we want to avoid it.” He praised bill sponsors Senator John Bell (13th District) and Delegate Mark Levine (45th District) for taking a difficult issue [animal bills] and doing well with moving their bills to passage.

The new adequate sheltering law, enacted on July 1, recognizes the dangers to animals left tied outside during certain conditions including extreme temperatures and severe weather events. Outside animal tethering is not considered adequate shelter:

  • unless the animal is safe from predators,

  • unless animal is well suited/well equipped to tolerate its environment,

  • during the effective period for a hurricane warning/tropical storm warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service;

  • during a heat advisory issued by a local or state authority,

  • when the actual or effective outdoor temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

  • when the actual or effective outdoor temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower

  • 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/

The law also sets minimum tether line lengths and maximum weights.

Senator Bell recounted seeing dogs on a short chain with no water on a trip through Virginia. Though he and his wife got water to the dogs that day, he knew we could do better. He commented, “A big part of what we want for Virginia is [seen in] how we treat animals.”

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