Victory for Virginia’s Dogs! Bills Restricting Dog Tethering Head to Gov.’s Desk

PETA-Backed Legislation Ends Dog Tethering During Extreme Temperatures and Severe Weather, Increases Minimum Length of Tether

For Immediate Release:
March 9, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Richmond, Va.

After four legislative sessions, countless discussions, supportive editorials, hard-fought compromises, and bi-partisan collaborations, the Virginia General Assembly has voted to pass two desperately needed animal protection bills that will prohibit keeping dogs tethered outside during below-freezing temperatures, extreme heat, and hurricanes and other severe storms. This session’s bills, Senate Bill 272 and House Bill 1552, were championed by Sen. John Bell (D-Loudoun) and Delegate Mark Levine (D-Alexandria), respectively. SB 272 was cosponsored by Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) and Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake), and HB 1552 was cosponsored by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington). The bills both passed the House and Senate over the weekend and now head to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Northam’s administration supported the bills, which prohibit leaving dogs tethered outside when temperatures dip to 32 degrees or below or soar to 85 degrees or above and during winter storms, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tropical storms. The bills also increase the minimum length of a tether from 10 to 15 feet.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work on this legislation,” says Sen. Bell, chief patron of S.B.272. “I am thrilled to see this commonsense lifesaving measure finally pass both chambers and know it will spell relief for countless dogs in the Commonwealth.”

“Many dogs who are chained up like bicycles, alone and uncared for, will now be spared frostbite, baking to death during Virginia’s stifling summers, and even drowning during severe weather—all circumstances that PETA has found,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA thanks Sen. Bell and Delegate Levine for championing these lifesaving bills and making Virginia a kinder, safer place for animals.”

Dogs chained outdoors around the clock spend their entire lives in the same few square feet of space, forced to eat and sleep near or even in their own waste, and are deprived of the social interaction they crave as pack animals. In the summer, dogs left outside have been found suffering from heatstroke, and in the winter, from frostbite and exposure. All year round, dogs become tangled in their chains and perish when they’re unable to reach food, water, or shelter.

PETA urges anyone who witnesses neglect to report it to local authorities. If possible, witnesses should take pictures and note how long an animal is left without adequate food, water, or shelter.

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