New tethering law in Virginia protects animals from extreme weather

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - One law in Virginia that went into effect at the beginning of this month protects our furry friends. It made changes to Virginia’s tethering law.

The old tethering law that Virginia had for dogs didn’t factor in the weather. Organizations like the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA wanted to see changes. The revised law now specifies weather conditions where dogs should not be left unattended (extreme heat, freezing temperatures, and severe weather). Minimum tethering has also gone up to 15 feet.

“The new law forces greater protections for the animals, specifically for the weather. So it does give law enforcement and the general public guidelines so if they see animals outside when it’s freezing, or inclement weather or extreme temperatures it gives them an objective measure to call enforcement if need be,” said Huck Nawaz, executive director of the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA.

“The new law that was put into effect July 1st explicitly specifies temperatures that are safe or deemed safe for animals to be out in which are temperatures that are below 85 degrees and above 32 degrees,” said Nawaz.

“Exposure to freezing temperatures or extreme heat is detrimental to the health of the animals,” said Nawaz.

Along with hot or cold weather, the law prevents animals from being outside when severe weather warnings are issued.

Nawaz said that the law creates awareness, but to really see it make a difference, it will come down to how aggressive law enforcement is.

“The law affords it to be an objective measure with the temperature being too high but now they can call animal control to follow up and expect them to follow through with it,” said Nawaz.

Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said that police have responded to six instances so far in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, but no citations have needed to be issued.

With the new tethering law becoming in effect July 1, the average high in Harrisonburg during the heat of the summer would be enough to have to bring your dog inside as the average high is 85 degrees.

One thing that the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA is doing is providing crates that will make it easier for owners to bring their dogs inside when its too hot, or cold, or we are dealing with severe weather.

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