The Falls Church Animal Control Officer and the Falls Church Police Department encourage residents to be extra vigilant in protecting their pets during frigid weather. Pets left outside in extreme temperatures, especially without food and shelter, are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, or death.
Leaving pets out in the severe cold for extended periods is highly discouraged and is a crime in many instances (animal neglect is a misdemeanor crime in all 50 states). By law, residents must provide appropriate shelter for any animal left outdoors. Listed below are the "Adequate Shelter" guidelines defined by Virginia State Law:
- The provided shelter must be suitable for the species, age, size, condition and type of each animal.
- Sheltering for the animal must be safe and protect it from rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight, and injury.
- The animal must have adequate space to move around.
- The shelter must protect the animal from heat, cold and physical suffering.
- The shelter must be properly cleaned and lighted.
- The shelter must provide a solid surface, pad, floor mat, resting platform and provide an area large enough for the animal to lie down in a normal resting position.
- The shelter must be maintained in a sanitary manner.
- The shelter must include access to food and water that is not frozen.
If you see a pet outside in the cold without proper shelter, contact the Falls Church Police Department immediately at 703-241-5053.
Please note the date, time, exact location, and type of animal(s) involved.
Follow these additional tips to be a kind human to our four-legged friends:
- Make noise before starting your car. Cats and other small animals are attracted to the warmth of vehicles, so make sure to tap on the hood to alert any sleeping animal that could be injured when the car starts.
- Check your pet's paws. Salt from sidewalks can harm paw pads. Wipe them with a warm cloth when they come inside.
- Keep pet garments dry. If you dress your dog in coats or sweaters, always make sure it stays dry and change if it becomes damp. Wet clothing can actually make a pet colder.
Again, residents are reminded that during severe weather conditions, animals without proper shelter can die without adequate care. If you should see any pet animal (dogs, cats, etc.) that appears to be
in need of care or does not have proper shelter, please contact the Falls Church Police Department at 703 241-5053 immediately.
Adequate shelter, yes. Adequate sized box, no.