In 2020, the General Assembly enacted changes to the Virginia Code as it relates to adequate shelter for animals. The Winchester Police Department is reminding its citizens of the seriousness of proper care for your animals, especially during the Winter months.
The addition to Virginia Code 3.2-6500 states: The outdoor tethering of an animal shall not constitute the provision of adequate shelter (a) unless the animal is safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its environment; (b) during the effective period for a hurricane warning or tropical storm warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service; or (c) (1) during a heat advisory issued by a local or state authority, (2) when the actual or effective outdoor temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, or (3) during the effective period for a severe weather warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service, including a winter storm, tornado, or severe thunderstorm warning, unless an animal control officer, having inspected an animal's individual circumstances in clause (c) (1), (2), or (3), has determined the animal to be safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its environment.
Animals being kept outside in temperatures under 33 degrees cannot be tethered and adequate shelter must be provided. The sheltering must protect the animal against injury, have a windbreak at its entrance, provide bedding material that allows the animal to retain body heat, is sanitary, and large enough for the animal to lie in a normal manner. Anyone who has information concerning a violation of this Virginia law is asked to contact the Winchester Police Department Animal Control at 540-662-4131.