Virginia Statutes

Statute by category Citationsort descending Summary
VA - Nuisance animals - § 29.1-517. Trapping and shooting of fur-bearing animals during closed season VA Code Ann. § 29.1-517

This Virginia law states that a landowner may shoot fur-bearing animals upon his own land during closed season when these animals are causing damage to crops or property, or are posing a threat to human health or safety, or are otherwise causing a nuisance.


VA - Hunting - § 29.1-530.3. Remote hunting prohibited; penalty VA Code Ann. § 29.1-530.3

Under this Virginia statute, it is unlawful to engage in computer-assisted remote hunting or provide or operate a facility that allows others to engage in computer-assisted remote hunting if the wild animal or wild bird being hunted or shot is located in the Commonwealth. A violation is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

VA - Disaster - § 44-146.18. Department of Emergency Services continued as Department of Emergency Management; administration an VA Code Ann. § 44-146.18

In Virginia, the State Department of Emergency Management must develop an emergency response plan to address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals in the event of a disaster.

VA - Trusts - § 64.2-726. Trust for care of animal VA Code Ann. § 64.2-726

This Virginia pet trust law becomes effective July 1, 2006.  The law provides that a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor's lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.

VA - Cemeteries, Pet - Article 8. Pet Cemeteries VA Code Ann. §§ 57-39.20 - 57-39.25

This Virginia chapter concerns pet cemeteries. “Pet cemetery” means land, together with any structures, facilities, or buildings appurtenant thereto provided to members of the public for use or reservation for use for the individual interment, above or below ground, of pet remains. The owner of land used for a pet cemetery must file a declaration in the office of the clerk restricting the land use. Each pet cemetery operation must establish a "perpetual care fund" of  at least $12,000 before the first plot is sold in the pet cemetery. Violation of § 57-39.22 relating to the perpetual care fund is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

VA - Dangerous - Dog killing other domestic animals other than livestock or poultry - § 3.1-796.117. Repealed by Acts 2006, cc. VA ST § 3.1-796.117 - § 3.1-796.117. Repealed by Acts 2006, cc. 837, 864 and 898 This Virginia statute provides that the governing body of any county, city or town, which has not adopted an ordinance pursuant to § 3.1-796.93:1, may adopt an ordinance to provide for the confinement of dogs which kill other dogs or domestic animals other than livestock or poultry.
VA - Hunting - § 29.1-521. Unlawful to hunt, trap, possess, sell or transport wild birds and wild animals except as permitted; e Va. Code Ann. § 29.1-521

This statute makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor to take listed wild animals.  In 2014, Virgina prohibited hunting or killing any deer or bear with a gun, firearm, or other weapon with the aid or assistance of dogs on Sundays.This statute also provides a procedural mechanism for registered Virginia Native Americans to obtain wild animal parts (i.e., eagle feathers) for ceremonial religious use.  For  discussion of federal Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion .

VA - Hunting - § 29.1-521.1. Willfully impeding hunting or trapping; penalty Va. Code Ann. § 29.1-521.1 & § 29.1-529

This law reflects Virginia's hunter harassment provision. Under the law, it is unlawful to willfully and intentionally impede the lawful hunting or trapping of wild birds or wild animals. Violation is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

VA - Dogs - Consolidated Dog Laws Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-5900 - 6590; § 29.1-516.1; § 15.2-981

These Virginia statutes comprise the state's dog laws.  Among the provisions include laws on the sale of dogs, rabies control laws, and sections concerning damage done by dogs.

VA - Equine - Chapter 62. Equine Activity Liability/Chapter 63. Ox Activity Liability Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6200 - 6302

This Virginia section provides that an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person shall not be liable for an injury to or death of a participant resulting from the intrinsic dangers of equine activities.  Liability is not limited where the equine professional intentionally injures the participant, commits an act or omission that constitutes negligence for the safety of the participant, or knowingly provides faulty equipment or tack that causes injury.  The statute seems to imply that a waiver should be executed when a participant engages in equine activities to adequately insulate the equine professional.

VA - Breeder - § 3.2-6500. Definitions (definitions for commercial breeder) Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6500

Provides most recent definitions for terms used throughout the rest of the statute, including but not limited to private and public animal shelters, commercial breeder, shelter, pet shop, and kennel.

VA - Vehicle - § 3.2-6504.1. Civil immunity; forcible entry of motor vehicle to remove unattended companion animal. Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6504.1 This Virginia law was signed by the Governor on April 1, 2016. The law provides that no law-enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical services personnel, or animal control officer who in good faith forcibly enters a motor vehicle in order to remove an unattended companion animal that is at risk of serious bodily injury or death shall be liable for any property damage to the vehicle entered or injury to the animal resulting from such forcible entry and removal of the animal, unless such property damage or injury results from gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
VA - Rabies - § 3.2-6522. Rabid animals Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6522 This Virginia statute provides that, when there is sufficient reason to believe that a rabid animal is at large, the governing body of any county, city or town shall have the power to pass an emergency ordinance that shall become effective immediately upon passage, requiring owners of all dogs and cats therein to keep the same confined.  It further outlines the steps that must be undertaken pursuant to such an ordinance, including proof of vaccination from pet owners, procedures for impounding and euthanizing suspected infected animals, and procedures relating to an animal biting a person.
VA - Rabies - § 3.2-6523. Inoculation for rabies at animal shelters Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6523

This Virginia statute provides that animals at a shelter may be inoculated by a licensed veterinary technician who is under the direct supervision of a veterinarian when an emergency rabies ordinance has been issued by a city or county.

VA - Licenses - § 3.2-6524. Unlicensed dogs prohibited; ordinances for licensing cats Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6524

This Virginia statute provides that it is unlawful for any person to own a dog four months old or older in the state unless such dog is licensed.  With regard to cats, t he governing body of any county, city or town may, by local ordinance, prohibit any person from owning a cat four months or older within such locality unless such cat is licensed.

VA - Rabies - § 3.2-6525. Regulations to prevent spread of rabies Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6525

This Virginia statute provides that the governing body of any county, city or town may adopt such ordinances, regulations or other measures as may be deemed reasonably necessary to prevent the spread within its boundaries of the disease of rabies, and to regulate and control the running at large within its boundaries of vicious or destructive dogs. Penalties may be provided for the violation of any such ordinances.  The governing body of any county that has adopted the urban county executive form of government may adopt an ordinance creating a program for the distribution of oral rabies vaccine within its boundaries to prevent the spread of rabies.

VA - Licenses - § 3.2-6527. How to obtain license Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6527 This Virginia statute describes the process under which an individual may obtain a dog or cat license.  Generally, it states that any person may obtain a dog license or cat license if required by an ordinance by making oral or written application to the treasurer of the county or city in which such person resides, accompanied by the amount of license tax and current certificate of vaccination as required by this article.
VA - Licenses - § 3.2-6528. Amount of license tax Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6528 This Virginia statute provides that the governing body of each county or city shall impose by ordinance a license tax on the ownership of dogs within its jurisdiction.  With regard to cats, the governing body of any county, city or town which has adopted an ordinance requiring licensing of cats shall impose by ordinance a license tax on the ownership of cats within its jurisdiction.  The tax amount may vary depending on whether the pet is male or female, and neutered or spayed. 
VA - Assistance animal - Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6528, 6588; § 46.2-932.1 - 934; § 51.5-40.1 - 51.5-46

The following statutes comprise the state's relevant assistance animal and guide dog laws.

VA - Ordinances - § 3.2-6537. Ordinances; penalties (pet shops) Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6537 This Virginia statute provides that the governing body of any county, city or town may, by local ordinance, require a person operating a pet shop or operating as a dealer in companion animals to obtain a permit.  It further outlines the specific requirements the ordinance may provide, including record-keeping and penalties.
VA - Ordinances - § 3.2-6539. Ordinance requiring dogs to be kept on leash Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6539 This Virginia statute provides that the governing body of any city may adopt regulations or ordinances requiring that dogs to be kept on a leash or otherwise restrained and may request the court to order a referendum as to whether any such ordinance so adopted shall become effective in the city.  The results of the referendum shall not be binding upon the governing body of any such city but may be used in ascertaining the sense of the voters.
VA - Dangerous - § 3.2-6540. Control of dangerous or vicious dogs; penalties Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6540 - 6542

These Virginia statutes amended in 2013 provide the state's dangerous dog laws. The first law outlines control procedures for a dangerous dog, defined as a canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal that is a dog or cat, or killed a companion animal that is a dog or cat.. The new section deals with a "vicious dog," defined as a canine or canine crossbreed that has (i) killed a person, (ii) inflicted serious injury to a person, or (iii) continued to exhibit the behavior that resulted in a previous finding by a court or, on or before July 1, 2006, by an animal control officer as authorized by ordinance that it is a dangerous dog, provided that its owner has been given notice of that finding.

VA - Dangerous - § 3.2-6541. Authority to prohibit training of attack dogs Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6541

This Virginia statute provides that Fairfax County may enact an ordinance that prohibits persons from training dogs on residential property to attack.

VA - Ordinances - § 3.2-6543. Governing body of any locality may adopt certain ordinances Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6543

This Virginia statute provides that the governing bodies of counties, cities, and towns of the Commonwealth are hereby authorized to adopt, in their discretion, ordinances which parallel statutory sections dealing with licensing of dogs, taxation, impoundment, and regulation of dangerous dogs.  It also provides that not hing in this section shall be construed so as to prevent or restrict any local governing body from adopting local animal control ordinances which are more stringent than the relevant state statutory sections.  It further outlines how ordinances may impose civil penalties for violations of the above.

VA - Impound - § 3.2-6545. Regulation of sale of animals procured from animal shelters Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6545

This Virginia statute provides that any city, county or town which supports an animal shelter may by ordinance provide that no person who acquires an animal from a shelter shall be able to sell such animal within a period of six months from the time the animal is acquired from the shelter. Violation of such an ordinance shall constitute a misdemeanor.

VA - Impound - § 3.2-6547. Acceptance of animals for research or experimentation; prohibition Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6547

This Virginia statute provides that no animal bearing a tag, license or tattooed identification shall be used or accepted by any person for the purpose of medical research or experimentation, unless the individual who owns such animal consents in writing.

VA - Impound - § 3.2-6548. Private animal shelters; confinement and disposition of animals; affiliation with foster care providers; penalties; injunctive relief Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6548

This Virginia statute outlines the requirements for private animal shelters.  Included are provisions that each animal shelter must obtain a signed statement from each of its directors, operators, and staff specifying that the individual has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment.  The State Veterinarian's office is responsible for inspection of the facilities to be sure the spaces for animals are adequate.  The statute also describes the requirements for animal foster care homes and states the penalties for violations of this statutory section.

VA - Impound - § 3.2-6549. Releasing agencies other than pounds or animal shelters; confinement and disposition of companion ani Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6549

This Virginia statute outlines the requirements for releasing agencies other than pounds or animal shelters.  Included in the provisions are recordkeeping requirements, a requirement that each agency receives a signed statement from each of its directors, operators, staff, or animal caregivers specifying that each individual has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment, and owner notice provisions.

VA - Impound - § 3.2-6551. Notification by individuals finding companion animals; penalty Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6551

This recent Virginia statute provides that any individual who finds a companion animal and provides care shall, within 48 hours, make a reasonable attempt to notify the owner of the companion animal, if the owner can be ascertained from any tag, license, collar, tattoo, or other form of identification and notify the pound that serves the locality where the companion animal was found.  Any individual who violates this section may be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $50 per companion animal.

VA - Dangerous - § 3.2-6553. Compensation for livestock and poultry killed by dogs Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6553 This Virginia statute states that any person who has any livestock or poultry killed or injured by any dog not his or her own shall be entitled to receive the fair market value of such livestock or poultry not to exceed $750 per animal or $10 per fowl, provided that the claimant has furnished evidence, the animal control officer was notified within seventy-two hours after discovery of the damage, and the claimant has exhausted other legal remedies.  However, local jurisdictions may by ordinance waive the last two requirements provided that the ordinance adopted requires that the animal control officer has conducted an investigation and that his investigation supports the claim.
VA - Cruelty - Article 7. Animal Control Officers and Humane Investigators. Article 8. Search, Seizure, Impounding, and Enforcem Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6555 - 3.2-6569

These chapters relate to the qualifications and duties of animal control officers and the procedures for impounding stray animals.

VA - Fur - § 3.2-6570. Cruelty to animals; penalty (dog/cat fur prohibition) Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6570

In Virginia, it is unlawful for any person to kill a domestic dog or cat for the purpose of obtaining the hide, fur or pelt of the dog or cat. A violation of this subsection is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of this subsection is a Class 6 felony.

VA - Fighting - § 3.2-6571. Animal fighting; penalty Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6571

This section makes it unlawful to knowingly promote, prepare, engage in or attend an exhibition of the fighting of animals. The violation becomes a Class 6 felony if: 1) one of the animals is a dog; 2) a device or substance is used to enhance the dog's ability to fight; 3) money or something else of value is wagered; 4) admission is paid; 5) an animal is owned or possessed with the intent to engage in an animal fight; or 6) a person causes a minor to attend or undertake in the activities. An animal used in fighting may be confiscated by law enforcement. Additionally, any person convicted of violating any listed provision shall be prohibited by the court from possession or ownership of companion animals or cocks.

VA - Dog Breed - Article 11. Hybrid Canines. Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6581 - 6584

This Virginia section provides three definitions related to hybrid dogs (wolf or coyote crossbreeds), including, adequate confinement, hybrid canine, responsible ownership. The section also allows any locality may, by ordinance, establish a permit system to ensure the adequate confinement and responsible ownership of hybrid canines. Violation of an ordinance enacted pursuant to this section is a Class 3 misdemeanor for the first violation and a Class 1 misdemeanor for any subsequent violation.

VA - Exotic Pets - Article 11. Hybrid Canines Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6581 - 6584

This section provides Virginia's hybrid canine laws (registered or described to a veterinarian, animal control, or other listed authority as a wolf or coyote-dog cross) . Under the section, any locality may, by ordinance, establish a permit system to ensure the adequate confinement and responsible ownership of hybrid canines. Violation of an ordinance enacted pursuant to this section is a Class 3 misdemeanor for the first violation and a Class 1 misdemeanor for any subsequent violation. Further, it is the duty of any animal control officer or other officer who may find a hybrid canine in the act of killing or injuring livestock or poultry to kill such hybrid canine forthwith, whether such hybrid canine bears a tag or not.

VA - Property - § 3.2-6585. Dogs and cats deemed personal property; rights relating thereto Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6585 This Virginia statute provides that all dogs and cats shall be deemed personal property and may be the subject of larceny and malicious or unlawful trespass.  It further grants authority to animal control officers to seize a stolen dog or cat pending court action.
VA - Ordinance - § 3.2-6587. Unlawful acts; penalties Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6587

This Virginia statute describes the unlawful acts related to pets that will constitute Class 4 misdemeanors.  Included are furnishing a false license application, failing to pay license tax, violating a leash or rabies ordinance, not disposing of dead companion animals per statute, and improperly concealing a pet.  Also, a Class 1 misdemeanor may be imposed for falsely impersonating a humane officer or for falsifying a claim for animal damage.

VA - Fur - § 3.2-6589. Selling garments containing dog or cat fur prohibited; penalty Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6589

This Virginia statute makes it illegal to sell a garment containing the fur of a "domestic" dog or cat.  Violation incurs up to a $10,000 penalty.

VA - Rabies - § 32.1-48.3. Regulations of Commissioner covering local ordinances and requirements Va. Code Ann. § 32.1-48.3 This Virginia statute specifically authorizes preemption of local control in the event of a rabies outbreak.  It states that if the governing body of the county or city in which the outbreak exists does not adopt ordinances, regulations and measures to prohibit the running at large of dogs and to prevent the spread of rabies, the State Health Commissioner is authorized to adopt regulations providing for the matters contained in such sections and to enforce the same in the same manner as if they had been specifically adopted by the governing body of the county or city involved.
VA - Liens - § 43–32 Lien of keeper of livery stable, marina, etc. Va. Code Ann. § 43-32

Every keeper of a livery stable, hangar, tie-down, or marina, and every person pasturing or keeping any horses or other animals, boats, aircrafts, or harness, will have a lien for the amount that would be due for towing, storage, recovery, keeping, supporting, and care. The lien will be removed once the amount is paid.

VA - Veterinary - Chapter 38. Veterinary Medicine. Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-3800 - 3813

These are the state's veterinary practice laws.  Among the provisions include licensing requirements, laws concerning the state veterinary board, veterinary records laws, and the laws governing disciplinary actions for impaired or incompetent practitioners.

VA - Endangered Species - Article 6. Endangered Species. Va. Code Ann. §§ 29.1-563 - 570

These Virginia statutes prohibit the taking, transportation, possession, sale, or offer for sale within the Commonwealth of species listed on the U.S. Endangered Species List or any other species designated by the state board.  Violation of this provision generally results in a Class 1 misdemeanor.  Interestingly, the state mandates that anyone who keeps a non-native or exotic reptile must keep the reptile so as to prevent it from running-at-large or escaping.  Violation of this provision is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

VA - Cruelty - Consolidated Cruelty Statutes Va. Code Ann. §§ 3.2-6500 - 6590; Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-361

These Virginia statutes set forth Title 3.2, the Comprehensive Animal Care laws, which include the state's anti-cruelty and animal fighting provisions. For the purposes of § 3.2-6570, the operative animal cruelty law, animal means any nonhuman vertebrate species including fish except those fish captured and killed or disposed of in a reasonable and customary manner. The section has a misdemeanor animal cruelty law as well as a felony provision related to torture or willful infliction of cruelty. The section requires companion animal owners to provide adequate care.

Virginia General Laws 1893: Cruelty to Animals Va. Code Ann. §§ 4554-4567 (Michie 1913)

A collection of Virginia laws from 1893 concerning the punishment and enforcement against cruelty to animals.  The laws cover cruelty to animals, power of agents of the court to search for cruelty to animals, and the punishment for shooting pigeons among other things.

VA - Domestic Violence - Protective orders Va. Code Ann.§§ 16.1-253, 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4, 16.1-279.1, 19.2-152.8, 19.2-152.9, and 19.2-152.10 In 2014, Virginia amended its Protective Order laws to grant petitioners possession of any “companion animal," so long as the petitioner is considered the owner. Companion animals include any family pets, such as dogs, cats, hamsters, etc., but do not include farm animals. To be considered an owner, a petitioner must either have a property interest in the animal, keep or house the animal, have the animal in their care, or have acted as a custodian of the animal. This new provision is now included in Virginia's Emergency Protective Orders, Preliminary Protective Orders, and Protective Orders.