FAIRFAX, Va. — Attention Virginia pet owners: You may not be allowed to tether your pet outside when it's too hot or too cold in Virginia, a prefiled bill said.
According to SB 272, pet owners can't tether pets in temperatures 32 degree or lower or 85 degrees or higher without adequate shelter between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. or when an owner isn't home, "except when the animal is engaged in conduct related to agricultural activity."
Additionally, the bill would also increase the required length of a tether from 10 feet (or three times the animal) to 15 feet (or four times the length of the animal). Under the bill, pets can't be tethered during a heat advisory or if a severe weather warning has been issued, including hurricanes tropical storms or tornado warnings.
The bill also authorizes the governing body of any locality to adopt or make stricter ordinances that align with certain state provisions related to the care of pets.
The bill summary states in full: "Provides that outdoor tethering of an animal does not meet the requirement that an animal be given adequate shelter if it occurs (i) between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except when the animal is engaged in conduct related to an agricultural activity; (ii) when no owner is on the property; (iii) when the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, or 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; (iv) during a heat advisory; or (v) during a severe weather warning."
D.C. has opted for the same guidelines. Nearly a year ago, D.C. passed a law stating you can't leave your pet outside for longer than 15 minutes when it's 32 degrees or below. Pets can only be outside longer if they have shelter or the owner is out with them.
Additionally in D.C., you must provide your pets with adequate shelter when it's below 40 degrees. Adequate shelter means a shelter that is the right size for your animal, includes an entrance that has a door flap blocking the cold and is elevated off the ground by at least four inches.
While animal control doesn't issue citations, they do open criminal investigations and take the animal if needed.
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