BIG WIN: Virginia Legislators Reject Governor’s Tethering Restrictions

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s attempt to put additional restrictions into a new dog tethering law was rejected by the Virginia legislature on April 3 during a special vote in both chambers.

On Feb. 19, the Virginia legislature passed Senate Bill 1025, which would have mandated that tethers be at least 10 feet long. Instead of signing the bill, Gov. Northam attempted to increase the required length of a tether to 15 feet, and returned the bill to the legislature with that amendment. The move was heavily opposed by the Sportsmen’s Alliance and dog-hunting groups throughout the state.

The governor’s amendment triggered a special vote by both chambers, which soundly rejected his amendment in favor of the bill that the legislature originally passed. Gov. Northam can now either sign the original bill into law or veto it, which would kill the bill entirely.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance, its Virginia members and coalition partners at the American Kennel Club, Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance and the Virginia Federation of Dog Club and Breeders worked diligently to ensure that both branches of the legislature defeated the governor’s language.

“Sportsmen and women care deeply for their dogs and spend thousands of dollars and many more hours with them,” said Luke Houghton associate director of state services for Sportsmen’s Alliance. “We’re grateful the legislature listened to their concerns and rejected the governor’s overreach that would have penalized dog owners with no real benefit to dogs.”

Although many sportsmen use tethers for training and field trials, the 15-foot requirement would have caused unwanted interactions between dogs and people, and resulted in entanglements that could be harmful to dogs. The Sportsmen’s Alliance also strongly believes that animal-cruelty laws should be based on evidence that a dog is being harmed or abused, and that a one-size-fits-all approach only penalizes the law abiding.    

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.