Laws

What laws pertain to animals in ChesapeakeListed in the following are a few of the laws (with code sections) most commonly asked about by citizens:

  • Dogs and cats must stay in their own yards unless accompanied by an owner or caretaker. Dogs or cats must be restrained by a collar or harness and chain or leash when off of the property of the owner or caretaker. (Section 10-42: Running at large; impoundment and release.)
  • Dogs and cats, four months and older, must be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. (Section10-43: Rabies vaccination.)
  • Dogs and cats four months and older are required to be licensed by the City Treasurer each calendar year. (10-62: Required; term; tax schedule.)
  • Female dogs in season must be confined so as not to constitute a public nuisance. (Section 10-46: Female dogs in season.)
  • Owners must clean up after pets which defecate on private or public property. (Section 10-23: Defecation.)
  • Dogs and cats that are outside and not in the immediate physical presence of their owner must wear identification. (Section 10-70: Identification required.)
  • It is unlawful to harbor stray animals longer than 14 days without having reported the animal to CASU. (Section 10-21: Harboring stray animals.)
  • No animal may be tethered so as to allow it to enter the property of another without the permission of the property owner. (Section 10-22: Tethering animals other than dogs improperly.)
  • No dog may be tethered on any property where the owner or custodian is not present. No dog may be tethered for longer than 60 minutes unless the owner or custodian is in the immediate physical presence of the dog. No dogs under 6 months and no female dogs in estrus may be tethered. Tethers must be at least 3 times the length of the dog's body, may not exceed 10% of the dog's body weight, must be affixed to a properly fitted collar or body harness, may not restrict the dog's normal movement, become tangled or extend over objects. Only 1 dog is allowed per tether. (Section 10-22.1: Tethering dogs.)
  • View more information about Chesapeake's tethering ordinance.
  • Owners are subject to summonses and possible fines for the above violations not to exceed $250 each.
    • Dogs which attack other animals or humans may be impounded until a court hearing. If found to be vicious or dangerous, the dog may be destroyed, removed or otherwise confined. (10-47.1: Control of dangerous dogs; penalties.)
    • No owner shall allow his or her dog or cat to be a nuisance. A court may order these animals sterilized, removed, destroyed or otherwise confined. (Section 10-45: Domestic, companion, wild or exotic animals constituting public nuisance.)
    • Dogs and cats that bite or scratch a human must be quarantined by an Animal Control Officer for a period of 10 days. These are confined on the owner's property under order of the Health Department as a rabies control measure. Failure to comply is a criminal offense. (Section 10-97: Quarantine.)
  • Owners of exotic animals, including but not limited to monkeys, wolf hybrids, poisonous reptiles, certain non-poisonous reptiles, emus, and llamas must obtain a permit from CASU. The initial cost is $10 and $5 per calendar year. (Section 10-49: Wild or Exotic Animals.)

Owners must provide their pets with the following:

  • Adequate food, fresh water, shelter and exercise space. Veterinary care and treatment. VA Code 3.2-6503
  • Humane care and treatment. VA Code 3.2-6569
  • Failure to properly provide for a pet constitutes cruelty and can result in confiscation of the animal by Animal Control Officers, as well as criminal prosecution. VA Code 3.2-6570

Convictions are punishable by any or all of the following: fine / jail sentence / loss of the animal.