Tuesday, while the Planning Commission took up discussions regarding the current dog ordinance, the question was broached as to whether Cape Charles should, as a town,create a policy that encompasses the ethical treatment of animals. This followed public comments, where citizens provided photographic evidence of inhumane treatment taking place in town, and urged Town Council, and the Planning Commission to do more to protect these pets.
During discussion about the dog ordinance in general, Commissioner Dan Burke broached the idea of doing more, “Any ideas by the planning commission to broaden the scope of this, to get into the ethical treatment of animals. Or, since we have no legislative powers, bump this up to town council?”
Councilman Strub, “We need to look into what we have already.”
Clerk, Libby Hume, “We just have a tether law.”
Burke, “I’d like to make a motion to broaden the scope of this to include the humane treatment of dogs.”
Commissioner Bucholz, “We can do that can’t we?”
Commissioner Natali, “We need to have Larry look into what Virginia Law enables us to do. We can’t do anything unless the state already allows it.”
The consensus among the Commission was to instruct staff, Planner Larry DiRe to research and bring back findings on anti-cruelty measures in the state.
Currently, 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. Primary Citation: Va. Code Ann. §§ 3.2-6500 – 6590; Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-361:
Article 9. Cruelty to Animals
§ 3.2-6570. Cruelty to animals; penalty
§ 3.2-6570.1. Sale of animals after cruelty or neglect conviction; penalty
§ 3.2-6571. Animal fighting; penalty
§ 3.2-6572. Reserved
§ 3.2-6573. Shooting birds for amusement, and renting premises for such purposes; penalty
Town looks at creating a designated Dog Park
From The National Parks & Recreation Service booklet, Planning Parks for Pets —
“Designating an area where dog guardians can allow their animals to run off-leash successfully remedies this problem in parks where the concept has been introduced. Violations of the leash law and subsequent public complaints have decreased; and dog guardians have a place to legally exercise their pets. Off-leash areas allow dog guardians to be law-abiding, easing the burden of enforcement on animal control officers and freeing them to do more important work, such as animal rescue and control of dangerous animals.”
The Cape Charles Planning Commission took up the idea of an off-lead area for dogs within the town limits. Larry DiRe provided and in-depth report on existing dog parks, and how those localities have approached implementation. Still, liability, policing, and regulation are still major concerns, and the Commission directed DiRe to provide more research.