ACOs take note of order from the Va. Attorney General’s Office re dogs in the cold!!

Animal Control Professionals:


I am getting an astronomical amount of complaints about Animal Control during these frigid temperatures.

During this cold snap we are experiencing, a dog with no shelter “at all” can easily freeze to death.  That is a violation of 3.2-6570(A)(ii).  Depriving an animal of necessary shelter…. That is cruelty.  Any dog should be seized under those conditions.


Moreover, blue barrels or decrepit shelters are not adequate shelter under temperatures like we are experiencing.  I have asked Animal Control Officers to do the following:  give options to the owner:  a) owner can bring the dog in to the house (offer wire crates if you have them); b) surrender the dog to ACO; or c) ACO can take temporary custody of the dog (you can charge them a fee for the custody).  They don’t get to let their dog freeze to death.    Leaving a notice is not enough.  If they don’t want to comply, then you should seize the dog.   Under the conditions we are experiencing, the owners can and should be charged with cruelty.  These conditions are the same conditions as a hurricane and remember under 3.2-6570(A)(i), “Illtreats” is very broad and I have been successful with “illtreats,”  charging many defendants with it in 2017.  In fact, I have convicted 10 people under the “illtreats” definition.


I know you are getting a lot of calls, but you as my animal heroes, must rise.


Please call me if you have any questions from the field.

Michelle Welch


K. Michelle Welch

Senior Assistant Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General

202 North 9th Street

Richmond, Virginia 23219

(804) 225-4776 Office