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New Animal Cruelty Laws Protect Animals from Severe Weather

Whew, it's been a hot few weeks! On several days, temperatures climbed into the high 90s. If you're like me, you spent your time indoors & directly in front of a fan or your AC unit, much like the cat below.

Sadly, not everyone had a choice.

Until now.

Thanks to Attorney General Herring, a new animal cruelty law will protect animals during heat and weather advisories, including freezing weather and hurricane or tropical storm advisories.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

“Extreme temperatures, like what we are currently experiencing here in Virginia, pose a real threat to the health and safety of animals that are left outside without adequate shelter or water,” said Attorney General Herring. “These new laws further protect animals, require owners to protect their animals from the elements with adequate shelter, and give law enforcement the tools they need to ensure the health and safety of animals. As we continue to deal with this oppressive heat wave, I would encourage all Virginians to take care of yourselves, your friends and your families and don’t forget about also taking care of your pets.”

Leaving an animal trapped in a car or exposed to the elements with no shelter or inadequate shelter can be considered animal cruelty, a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

The letter (sent to Animal Control Officers throughout the state) outlines the new, more stringent tethering provisions and explains that an animal cannot be tied up unless it is safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its environment and may not be tied up under these conditions:

· During the effective period for a hurricane warning or tropical storm warning issued for the area by the National Weather Service; or

· During a heat advisory, freezing or below freezing temperatures, or during a severe weather warning

Attorney General Herring and his Animal Law Unit advise animal control officers to ask owners to bring animals inside or into shelter, ask the owner to surrender the animal if they are unable to provide adequate shelter, or in certain circumstances take temporary custody of an animal to ensure its safety.

Major thanks to Attorney General Herring for this monumental progress for companion animals in the great state of Virginia.

Stay cool, friends, and bring your pets inside!

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