Urgent From PETA: It’s Illegal in Virginia to Leave Dogs Chained Out in the Cold

For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2022

Robin Goist 202-483-7382

Franklin, Va.

Because temperatures are dropping below freezing, PETA is reminding residents that Virginia law prohibits leaving dogs chained or tethered outside when the temperature is 32 degrees or below and remind them to bring their dogs indoors or face legal consequences. Animals are especially vulnerable in the winter, and there have been more than 700 reported cold weather–related companion animal rescues and dozens of deaths since 2020. (Most are not reported.) A glimpse of just some of the dogs PETA’s fieldworkers found suffering in the cold last winter can be seen here. (Broadcast-quality footage is available upon request.)

The following information can go a long way toward helping animals survive freezing temperatures:

  • Animal companions should live indoors with their human families. Dogs who are kept chained up outside and “outdoor cats”—like those featured in Breaking the Chain, a documentary produced by Oscar winner Anjelica Huston—often go without adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. Their water turns to ice, their food turns to mush if left out in the rain, the chains around dogs’ necks get tangled and prevent them from reaching their shelters, and these animals are no better equipped to survive freezing temperatures or extreme weather conditions than humans They can suffer terribly from frostbite and die from exposure.
  • Coats will keep dogs comfortable in cold weather (just be sure to remove wet jackets the moment dogs return home), secure harnesses can help prevent them from getting loose on walks, and booties will protect their sensitive paw pads from the frozen ground. Keep walks short in cold weather, especially for shorthaired dogs.
  • Animals left outside in the cold need people to help them—otherwise, they could die. Many chained dogs are pit bulls, whose short hair leaves them particularly vulnerable. Please be on the lookout for any dog kept chained or penned outside 24/7 or without adequate shelter from the elements, and alert local law-enforcement authorities immediately if you see one. If officers don’t respond, call PETA at 757-622-PETA.

PETA has released a cold-weather public service announcement. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

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