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

For Immediate Release:
November 23, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – Because temperatures are expected to drop below freezing in the area, PETA reminds that Virginia law prohibits leaving dogs chained or tethered outside when the temperature is 32 degrees or below—and to bring dogs indoors or face legal consequences. Animals are especially vulnerable in the winter, and there have been at least 28 reported cold weather–related companion animal 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.

The following information can go a long way toward helping animals survive the freezing temperatures coming to the area:

  • Animal companions should live indoors with their human families. Dogs forced to live chained up outside—like those featured in Breaking the Chain, the documentary produced by Oscar winner Anjelica Huston—and “outdoor cats” 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, 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 of exposure.
  • Coats will keep dogs comfortable in cold weather, 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.

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

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind