Chapter 6.05


6.05.010    Definitions.

6.05.020    Violations of title.

6.05.030    Animal control officer generally.

6.05.040    Repealed.

6.05.050    Removal of manure from stables.

6.05.060    Fowl or livestock running at large.

6.05.070    Shooting at or killing birds or animals.

6.05.080    Care of animals by owner – Penalty.

6.05.090    Tethering animals.

6.05.010 Definitions.

The following words and phrases shall, as used in this title, have the following meanings:

“Abandon” means to desert, forsake, or absolutely give up an animal without having secured another owner or custodian for the animal or by failing to provide the elements of basic care as set forth in Section 3.2-6503 of the Code of Virginia for a period of five consecutive days.

“Adequate care” or “care” means the responsible practice of good animal husbandry, handling, production, management, confinement, feeding, watering, protection, shelter, transportation, treatment, and, when necessary, euthanasia, appropriate for the age, species, condition, size and type of the animal and the provision of veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering or impairment of health.

“Adequate exercise” or “exercise” means the opportunity for the animal to move sufficiently to maintain normal muscle tone and mass for the age, species, size, and condition of the animal.

“Adequate feed” means access to and the provision of food which is of sufficient quantity and nutritive value to maintain each animal in good health; is accessible to each animal; is prepared so as to permit ease of consumption for the age, species, condition, size and type of each animal; is provided in a clean and sanitary manner; is placed so as to minimize contamination by excrement and pests; and is provided at suitable intervals for the species, age, and condition of the animal, but at least once daily, except as prescribed by a veterinarian or as dictated by naturally occurring states of hibernation or fasting normal for the species.

“Adequate shelter” means provision of and access to shelter that is suitable for the species, age, condition, size, and type of each animal; provides adequate space for each animal; is safe and protects each animal from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight, the adverse effects of heat or cold, physical suffering, and impairment of health; is properly lighted; is properly cleaned; enables each animal to be clean and dry, except when detrimental to the species; and, for dogs and cats, provides a solid surface, resting platform, pad, floor mat, or similar device that is large enough for the animal to lie on in a normal manner and can be maintained in a sanitary manner. Under this chapter, shelters whose wire, grid, or slat floors (1) permit the animals’ feet to pass through the openings, (2) sag under the animals’ weight, or (3) otherwise do not protect the animals’ feet or toes from injury are not adequate shelter.

“Adequate space” means sufficient space to allow each animal to (1) easily stand, sit, lie, turn about, and make all other normal body movements in a comfortable, normal position for the animal and (2) interact safely with other animals in the enclosure. When the animal is tethered, “adequate space” means a tether that permits the above actions and is appropriate to the age and size of the animal; is attached to the animal by a properly applied collar, halter, or harness, not of the choker type configured so as to protect the animal from injury and prevent the animal or tether from becoming entangled with other objects or animals, or from extending over an object or edge that could result in the strangulation or injury of the animal; and is at least the greater of 10 feet or three times the length of the animal, as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail, except when the animal is being walked on a leash or is attached by a tether to a lead line. When freedom of movement would endanger the animal, temporarily and appropriately restricting movement of the animal according to professionally accepted standards for the species is considered provision of adequate space.

“Adequate water” means provision of and access to clean, fresh, potable water of a drinkable temperature which is provided in a suitable manner, in sufficient volume, except as prescribed by a veterinarian or as dictated by naturally occurring states of hibernation or fasting normal for the species; and is provided in clean, durable receptacles which are accessible to each animal and are placed so as to minimize contamination of the water by excrement and pests; or an alternative source of hydration consistent with generally accepted husbandry practices.

“Adoption” means the transfer of ownership of a dog or cat from a releasing agency to an individual.

“Agricultural animals” means all livestock and poultry.

“Ambient temperature” means the temperature surrounding the animal.

“Animal” means any nonhuman vertebrate species except fish. For the purposes of Section 3.2-6522 of the Code of Virginia, “animal” means any species susceptible to rabies. For the purposes of Section 3.2-6570 of the Code of Virginia, “animal” means any nonhuman vertebrate species including fish except those fish captured and killed or disposed of in a reasonable and customary manner.

“Animal control officer” means any person employed, contracted, or appointed by the commonwealth or any political subdivision for the purpose of aiding in the enforcement of this title or any other law or ordinance relating to the licensing of dogs, control of dogs and cats, cruelty to animals, or seizure and impoundment of companion animals and includes any state or municipal police officer, sheriff, constable, or other employee whose duties in whole or in part include assignments which involve seizure or taking into custody of any dog or other animal.

“Board” means the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“Boarding establishment” means a place or establishment other than a pound or animal shelter where companion animals not owned by the proprietor are sheltered, fed, and watered in exchange for a fee.

“Collar” means a well-fitted device, appropriate to the age and size of the animal, attached to the animal’s neck in such a way as to prevent trauma or injury to the animal.

“Companion animal” means any domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, exotic or native bird, or any feral animal or any animal under the care, custody, or ownership of a person or any animal which is bought, sold, traded, or bartered by any person. Agricultural animals, game species, or any animals regulated under federal law as research animals shall not be considered companion animals for the purposes of this chapter.

“Consumer” means any natural person purchasing an animal from a dealer or pet shop or hiring the services of a boarding establishment. The term “consumer” shall not include a business or corporation engaged in sales or services.

“Dealer” means any person who in the regular course of business for compensation or profit buys, sells, transfers, exchanges, or barters companion animals. Any person who transports companion animals in the regular course of business as a common carrier shall not be considered a dealer.

“Dog” means any member of the canine or canine crossbreed family, regardless of sex, age, size, breed, or other characteristics.

“Emergency veterinary treatment” means veterinary treatment to stabilize a life-threatening condition, alleviate suffering, prevent further disease transmission, or prevent further disease progression.

“Enclosure” means a structure used to house or restrict animals from running at large.

“Euthanasia” means the humane destruction of an animal accomplished by a method that involves instantaneous unconsciousness and immediate death or by a method that involves anesthesia, produced by an agent which causes painless loss of consciousness, and death during such loss of consciousness.

“Exhibitor” means any person who has animals for or on public display, excluding an exhibitor licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Firearm” means any weapon that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel single or multiple projectiles by the action of an explosion of a combustible material; or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.

“Housing facility” means any room, building, or area used to contain a primary enclosure or enclosures.

“Humane” means any action taken in consideration of and with the intent to provide for the animals’ health and well-being.

“Humane investigator” means a person who has been appointed by a circuit court as a humane investigator as provided in Section 3.2-6558 of the Code of Virgina.

“Humane society” means any chartered, nonprofit organization incorporated under the laws of this commonwealth and organized for the purpose of preventing cruelty to animals and promoting humane care and treatment of animals.

“Kennel” means any establishment in which five or more canines, felines, or hybrids of either are kept for the purpose of breeding, hunting, training, renting, buying, boarding, selling, or showing.

“Livestock” includes all domestic or domesticated bovine animals; equine animals; ovine animals; porcine animals; cervidae animals; capradae animals; animals of the genus Llama; ratites; fish or shellfish in aquaculture facilities, as defined in Section 3.2-2600 of the Code of Virginia; enclosed domesticated rabbits or hares raised for human food or fiber; or any other individual animal specifically raised for food or fiber, except companion animals.

“Local ordinance” means any law, rule, regulation, or ordinance promulgated by the governing body of any county, city, or town.

“New owner” means an individual who is legally competent to enter into a binding agreement pursuant to subdivision B 2 of Section 3.2-6574 of the Code of Virginia, and who adopts or receives a dog or cat from a releasing agency.

“Other officer” includes all other persons employed or elected by the people of Virginia, or by any municipality, county, or incorporated town thereof, whose duty it is to preserve the peace, to make arrests, or to enforce the law.

“Owner” means any person who: (1) has a right of property in an animal, (2) keeps or harbors an animal, (3) has an animal in his care, or (4) acts as a custodian of an animal.

“Person” means any individual, partnership, firm, joint-stock company, corporation, association, trust, estate, or other legal entity.

“Pet shop” means an establishment where companion animals are bought, sold, exchanged, or offered for sale or exchange to the general public.

“Poultry” includes all domestic fowl and game birds raised in captivity.

“Primary enclosure” means any structure used to immediately restrict an animal or animals to a limited amount of space, such as a room, pen, cage, compartment, or hutch. For tethered animals, the term includes the shelter and the area within reach of the tether.

“Private animal shelter” means a facility operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes for animals that is used to house or contain animals and that is owned or operated by an incorporated, nonprofit, and nongovernmental entity, including a humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any other similar organization.

“Properly cleaned” means that carcasses, debris, food waste and excrement are removed from the primary enclosure with sufficient frequency to minimize the animals’ contact with the above-mentioned contaminants; the primary enclosure is sanitized with sufficient frequency to minimize odors and the hazards of disease; and the primary enclosure is cleaned so as to prevent the animals confined therein from being directly or indirectly sprayed with the stream of water, or directly or indirectly exposed to hazardous chemicals or disinfectants.

“Properly lighted” means sufficient illumination to permit routine inspections, maintenance, cleaning, and housekeeping of the shelter, and observation of the animal; to provide regular diurnal lighting cycles of either natural or artificial light, uniformly diffused throughout the animal facilities; and to promote the well-being of the animals.

“Public animal shelter” means a facility operated by the commonwealth, or any locality, for the purpose of impounding or sheltering seized, stray, homeless, abandoned, unwanted, or surrendered animals or a facility operated for the same purpose under a contract with any locality.

“Releasing agency” means a public animal shelter or a private animal shelter, humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other similar entity or home-based rescue that releases companion animals for adoption.

“Research facility” means any place, laboratory, or institution licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at which scientific tests, experiments, or investigations involving the use of living animals are carried out, conducted, or attempted.

“Running at large” means an animal off the real property of its owner or custodian and not under the owner’s or custodian’s immediate control.

“Sanitize” means to make physically clean and to remove and destroy, to a practical minimum, agents injurious to health.

“State Veterinarian” means the veterinarian employed by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services as provided in Section 3.2-5901 of the Code of Virginia.

“Sterilize” or “sterilization” means a surgical or chemical procedure performed by a licensed veterinarian that renders a dog or cat permanently incapable of reproducing.

“Tether” means to restrain an animal by tying the animal to any object or structure, including but not limited to a house, tree, fence, post, garage, or shed, by any means, including but not limited to a chain, rope, cord, leash, pulley, trolley or running line. Tethering shall not include using a leash to walk an animal, the tying of an animal temporarily in emergency circumstances to prevent or minimize harm, or the tying of an animal temporarily for purposes of positioning, restraining, moving, or transporting it.

“Treasurer” includes the treasurer and his assistants of each county or city or other officer designated by law to collect taxes in such county or city.

“Treatment” or “adequate treatment” means the responsible handling or transportation of animals in the person’s ownership, custody or charge, appropriate for the age, species, condition, size, and type of the animal.

“Under control” means an animal secured by a leash or lead, or penned up or in the immediate vicinity of a responsible owner or custodian, obedient to that person’s command, and not engaged in destructive activity.

“Veterinary treatment” means treatment by or on the order of a duly licensed veterinarian.

“Weaned” means that an animal is capable of and physiologically accustomed to ingestion of solid food or food customary for the adult of the species, and has ingested such food, without nursing, for a period of at least five days. (Ord. 2017-12; Ord. 2010-14; Ord. 2008-03. Code 1985, § 6-1).

6.05.020 Violations of title.

(1) Unless otherwise specifically provided, a violation of any provision of this title shall constitute a Class 4 misdemeanor.

(2) Unless otherwise specifically provided, any owner convicted of a second violation of a provision of this title (which violation occurs within 12 months of the occurrence of the first violation) shall be fined not less than $75.00. Any owner convicted of a third or more subsequent violation (which violation occurs within 12 months of the occurrence of the first violation) shall be fined $150.00.

(3) Any owner convicted of a violation of this title shall, in addition to the fine imposed, be required to pay restitution to the city for any costs expended for investigation, handling, care, housing or medical care for the animal concerned.

(4) The foregoing notwithstanding, violations of SCC 6.05.060, 6.10.010, 6.10.020, 6.10.040, 6.10.070, 6.10.190, 6.10.200, and 6.10.240 are hereby designated as civil violations, with the civil penalty for such violation set as follows:


First Offense

Second Offense

Third and Subsequent Offense(s)

































*Violator must also obtain proper license and/or rabies vaccination certificate.

(5) Nothing herein shall preclude an action brought by the city for injunctive, declaratory, or other equitable relief. (Ord. 2011-04; Ord. 2008-03; Ord. 2004-27. Code 1985, § 6-2; Ord. 5-23-02).

Cross reference – Penalty for Class 4 misdemeanor, SCC 1.05.100.

6.05.030 Animal control officer generally.

(1) The position of animal control officer for the city is hereby created, and vested with the power to enforce Title 3.2 of the Code of Virginia, all ordinances enacted pursuant to that chapter or the City Charter, and all laws for the protection of domestic animals. The animal control officer and deputies, if any, shall be appointed as prescribed by law.

(2) The animal control officer shall be charged with the duty of enforcing the provisions of this title, except as otherwise specifically provided, and to the extent that it shall be necessary for the enforcement of this title, the animal control officer shall have the powers of a police officer and, to that end, shall have authority to enter upon private property in the city to the extent necessary. (Ord. 2017-12; Ord. 2008-03. Code 1985, § 6-3).

6.05.040 Keeping of swine or sheep.

Repealed by Ord. 2017-12. (Code 1964, § 6-1; Code 1985, § 6-4).

6.05.050 Removal of manure from stables.

(1) It shall be the duty of every person maintaining a stable of any character within the city to daily cause all manure therein to be gathered up and removed to a room or container provided for that purpose, which room or container shall be so screened or covered as to prevent access thereto by flies or insects of any kind. It shall be unlawful for any person to permit any unnecessary collection of manure in such room or container and the same shall be removed at least once a week between April 1st and October 31st of each year.

(2) It shall be the duty of the health officer to inspect, or cause to be inspected, stables within the city and to report any violation of this section to the chief of police, and to include in his reports to the city council any instances of violation of this section which he may discover. (Code 1964, § 6-6; Code 1985, § 6-5).

6.05.060 Fowl or livestock running at large.

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to allow or permit any fowl, poultry, or livestock of any description to stray to public property or private premises of another, and all poultry, fowl, and livestock shall be sufficiently housed or fenced by the owner or person exercising control over the same, so as to prevent the same from trespassing or straying.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to suffer or permit any horse, mule, cow, calf, ox, swine, or goat owned or controlled by him to walk or to be driven along any paved sidewalk in the city or to turn loose or permit the same to go at large in any public street or alley of the city. (Code 1964, § 6-2; Code 1985, § 6-6).

6.05.070 Shooting at or killing birds or animals.

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of the city to shoot at or kill, by use of a firearm, any bird or animal.

(2) In case of a nuisance from birds or animals, they may be shot under the supervision of the police department, upon permission of the city manager or designee.

(3) The provisions of this section shall not prohibit authorized wildlife management activities or hunting, fishing or trapping as regulated under other titles of the Code of Virginia, including, but not limited to, Title 29.1, or to farming activities as provided under the Code of Virginia, ordinances adopted pursuant to the Code of Virginia, or regulations promulgated thereto.

(4) Urban archery hunting with an arrow from a bow for the purposes of deer hunting within the city limits shall be permitted during the urban archery season, the early archery season, the late archery season, and the general firearms deer season, as designated in regulations set forth or authorization otherwise by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, under the following strict conditions:

(a) Any person discharging a bow shall, at all times, while engaged in such activity, have in his possession a copy of valid written permission from the landowner(s) or designee to discharge such a weapon on their property;

(b) Agreement shall have been made in writing, in advance as part of the permission, between the participant and landowner(s) in reference to field dress, with immediate disposition of deer carcasses in such a way that removes all aspects of the carcass from the land and away from any street, sidewalk, alley, roadway, or public land or place within city limits;

(c) All participants must strictly comply with all applicable provisions of the Virginia State Code and Virginia Hunting Regulations and the following conditions:

(i) All hunting shall be done internally to the property for which prior written permission has been granted.

(ii) A person shall neither discharge a bow from, over or across any city-owned property without prior written permission of the city manager or designee, or over or across any street, sidewalk, alley, roadway, or public land or public place within city limits or toward any building or dwelling in such a manner that an arrow may strike it nor shall a person discharge a bow over or across the private property of another without prior written permission.

(iii) No person shall hunt deer within the city limits by use of dog or dogs.

(d) Any person violating any provision of this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor for each such offense. (Ord. 2011-25; Ord. 2011-24; Ord. 2008-03. Code 1964, § 6-4; Code 1985, § 6-7; Ord. 11-11-93).

Charter reference – Authority of council to prohibit abuse of animals, § 11(15).

State law reference – § 3.2-6544 of the Code of Virginia.

6.05.080 Care of animals by owner – Penalty.

(1) Each owner shall provide for each of his companion animals:

(a) Adequate feed;

(b) Adequate water;

(c) Adequate shelter that is properly cleaned;

(d) Adequate space in the primary enclosure for the particular type of animal depending upon its age, size, species, and weight;

(e) Adequate exercise;

(f) Adequate care, treatment, and transportation; and

(g) Veterinary care when needed or to prevent suffering or disease transmission.

The provisions of this section shall also apply to every animal shelter, pound, dealer, pet shop, exhibitor, kennel, groomer, and boarding establishment. This section shall not require that animals used as food for other animals be euthanized.

(2) The first violation of the provisions of this section shall constitute a Class 4 misdemeanor. The second violation as to the same animal shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. Subsequent violations as to the same animal shall constitute Class 2 misdemeanors. Upon being found guilty of a third or subsequent violation related to the same animal, the court may also order the confiscation and the proper disposition of the animal. (Ord. 2008-03. Code 1985, § 6-8; Ord. 5-23-02).

6.05.090 Tethering animals.

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to tether any animal less than four months of age within the city of Staunton. Animals over four months of age are prohibited from being tethered between the hours of 10:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. local time.

(2) Whenever the police department or animal control officer receives a complaint as to a violation of this section, and the complaint is found to be warranted, the police department or animal control officer shall notify the person in writing to abate such violation within 30 days. If, after such written notice, the person fails to correct the violation, the police department or animal control officer shall take the necessary legal action to abate the violation by having the animal impounded or the person charged with a violation of this section, or both.

(3) The first violation of this section shall constitute a Class 4 misdemeanor. A subsequent violation shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. (Ord. 2010-14).