Urgent From PETA: Leaving Animals Outside Is a Crime in Virginia

For Immediate Release:
February 20, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Hampton Roads, Va – As temperatures near freezing at night in your area, PETA is reminding dog guardians of the new state law that prohibits leaving dogs chained up or tethered outside when the temperature is 32 degrees or below or during severe weather warnings for winter storms. Animals are especially vulnerable in the winter, and there were at least 37 reported cold weather–related companion animal deaths in 2019. (Most are not reported.)

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

  • Bring Them Indoors

Companion animals should live indoors with their human families. “Backyard dogs” and “outdoor cats”—like those featured in Breaking the Chain, the new 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, and these animals are no better equipped to survive freezing temperatures or extreme weather conditions than humans are. They can suffer terribly from frostbite and die of exposure.

  • Gear Up

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.

  • Change the Law

If your town or county allows the continuous chaining of dogs, work with local officials to get a ban passed—and contact PETA for help.

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. Even during milder weather conditions, state law requires that all dogs who are kept outdoors be provided with insulating straw or other bedding and that doghouses have a windbreak to help protect animals from the cold. 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