Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 3.2. Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food
Chapter 65. Comprehensive Animal Care

Article 12. Miscellaneous Provisions.

§ 3.2-6585. Dogs and cats deemed personal property; rights relating thereto.

All dogs and cats shall be deemed personal property and may be the subject of larceny and malicious or unlawful trespass. Owners, as defined in § 3.2-6500, may maintain any action for the killing of any such animals, or injury thereto, or unlawful detention or use thereof as in the case of other personal property. The owner of any dog or cat that is injured or killed contrary to the provisions of this chapter by any person shall be entitled to recover the value thereof or the damage done thereto in an appropriate action at law from such person.

An animal control officer or other officer finding a stolen dog or cat, or a dog or cat held or detained contrary to law, shall have authority to seize and hold such animal pending action before a general district court or other court. If no such action is instituted within seven days, the animal control officer or other officer shall deliver the dog or cat to its owner.

The presence of a dog or cat on the premises of a person other than its legal owner shall raise no presumption of theft against the owner, and the animal control officer may take such animal and notify its legal owner. The legal owner of the animal shall pay a reasonable charge as the local governing body by ordinance shall establish for the keep of such animal while in the possession of the animal control officer.

1984, c. 492, § 29-213.95; 1987, c. 488, § 3.1-796.127; 1988, c. 537; 1998, c. 817; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-6585.1. Duty to identify; scanning for microchip.

Any veterinarian, public or private animal shelter, or releasing agency that releases or receives companion animals for adoption or is authorized to euthanize companion animals shall seek to identify the lawful owner of each unidentified companion animal submitted to it, including, for any weaned companion animal that may be safely handled, making a reasonable attempt to scan the animal for an embedded microchip at the time of intake, at the time of assessment, and prior to disposition. If a chip is detected, the veterinarian, shelter, or agency shall make every reasonable effort to contact the owner by the most expedient method available. Such veterinarian, shelter, or agency shall maintain documentation for at least 30 days from the date of the final disposition of the animal that includes the reason an animal could not be scanned, any scanning that located or failed to locate a microchip, whether a located microchip was registered to an owner, and any attempt to contact any owner. Veterinarians shall notify the local public shelter, in compliance with § 3.2-6551, when taking possession of a stray animal. The requirements of this section shall not apply to the transfer of animals between veterinarians, public or private animal shelters, or releasing agencies.

2022, c. 387.

§ 3.2-6586. Dog injuring or killing other companion animals.

The owner of any companion animal that is injured or killed by a dog shall be entitled to recover damages consistent with the provisions of § 3.2-6585 from the owner of such dog in an appropriate action at law if: (i) the injury occurred on the premises of the companion animal's owner; and (ii) the owner of the offending dog did not have the permission of the companion animal's owner for the dog to be on the premises at the time of the attack.

2003, c. 841, § 3.1-796.127:1; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-6587. Unlawful acts; penalties.

A. The following shall be unlawful acts and are Class 4 misdemeanors:

1. For any person to make a false statement in order to secure a dog or cat license to which he is not entitled.

2. For any dog or cat owner to fail to pay any license tax required by this chapter before February 1 for the year in which it is due. In addition, the court may order confiscation and the proper disposition of the dog or cat.

3. For any dog owner to allow a dog to run at large in violation of an ordinance passed pursuant to § 3.2-6539.

4. Unless otherwise punishable under subsection B, for any person to fail to obey an ordinance passed pursuant to §§ 3.2-6522 and 3.2-6525.

5. For any owner to fail to dispose of the body of his companion animals in accordance with § 3.2-6554.

6. For the owner of any dog or cat with a contagious or infectious disease, other than rabies, to permit such dog or cat to stray from his premises if such disease is known to the owner.

7. For any person to conceal or harbor any dog or cat on which any required license tax has not been paid.

8. For any person, except the owner or custodian, to remove a legally acquired license tag from a dog or cat without the permission of the owner or custodian.

9. Any other violation of this chapter for which a specific penalty is not provided.

B. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to:

1. Present a false claim or to receive any money on a false claim under the provisions of § 3.2-6553.

2. Impersonate a humane investigator.

3. Permit a dog or cat that he owns or is in his custody to stray from his premises when he knows or has been told by the local health department, law-enforcement agency, animal control agency, or any other person who has a duty to control or respond to a risk of rabies exposure that the dog or cat is suspected of having rabies.

1984, c. 492, § 29-213.99; 1987, c. 488, § 3.1-796.128; 1993, cc. 174, 775, 817; 1998, c. 817; 2008, c. 860; 2020, c. 1183.

§ 3.2-6588. Intentional interference with a guide or leader dog; penalty.

A. It is unlawful for a person to, without just cause, willfully impede or interfere with the duties performed by a dog if the person knows or has reason to believe the dog is a guide or leader dog. A violation of this subsection is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

B. It is unlawful for a person to, without just cause, willfully injure a dog if the person knows or has reason to believe the dog is a guide or leader dog. A violation of this subsection is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

"Guide or leader dog" means a dog that: (i) serves as a dog guide for a blind person as defined in § 51.5-60 or for a person with a visual disability; (ii) serves as a listener for a deaf or hard-of-hearing person as defined in § 51.5-111; or (iii) provides support or assistance for an individual with a physical disability.

1995, c. 209, § 3.1-796.128:1; 2008, c. 860; 2023, cc. 148, 149.

§ 3.2-6589. Selling garments containing dog or cat fur prohibited; penalty.

It is unlawful for any person to sell a garment containing the hide, fur, or pelt that he knows to be that of a domestic dog or cat. A violation of this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000.

1999, cc. 646, 678, § 3.1-796.128:2; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-6590. Jurisdiction of general district courts; right of appeal.

Unless otherwise provided, the provisions of this article may be enforced by any general district court in cities or counties wherein the offense is committed or the offender or owner may be found. Every such offender shall have the right of appeal to the appropriate circuit court.

1984, c. 492, § 29-213.100; 1987, c. 488, § 3.1-796.129; 2008, c. 860.