Laws & Ordinances by Topic
The Virginia Code prohibits animal cruelty. The following are prohibited under this act:
- Abuse, torture, abandonment
- Deprivation of food, water, shelter or emergency veterinary care
- Engage in or instigate animal cruelty
Please review the complete ordinance on animal cruelty for more information.
The Arlington County code prohibits anyone who is not the owner or legal possessor of a dog to remove the dog’s tags or collar. More information about interefring with dogs may be found in section 2-11 of the Arlington County animal code.
For a complete explanation of Arlington County’s code on dangerous dogs, please see the full Arlington County code, section 2-10.
The Arlington animal shelter and Animal Control often receive calls from concerned citizens about dogs that are left outside. We welcome these calls and will do our best to educate owners on the dangers pets may face when left outside. Animal Control Officers are able to enforce the County’s minimum requirements for animal housing. Please refer to the County Code for further information.
If a dog is found running at large, an Animal Control Officer may apprehend and impound the dog at the County facility (Animal Welfare League of Arlington). If ownership can be determined, he or she will be notified. The dog may be returned to the owner once an impoundment fee is paid and proof of current license and rabies vaccination is available or the owner is able to pay for a current license and rabies vaccination. The County also requires that owners pay an additional fine if a dog is picked up multiple times within a year. Please see section 2-9 of the Arlington County Animal Code for the additional fee schedule.
When off their owner’s property, all dogs in Arlington must be leashed and under control of the owner or another responsible person. The only exception to this law is if the dog is in a county-sanctioned, off-lead dog exercise area.
Use of electronic training collars does not qualify as being leashed. Violations are punishable by Arlington County code 2-6 stating that dogs must be leashed, even when owners are present or code 2-5 for dogs running at large. Repeat offenses in either category can lead to elevated fines and charges.
The Arlington County Code allows no more than three dogs per household, unless approved by the zoning administrator and a kennel license has been obtained.
Any animal that has bitten a person shall be confined under competent observation for 10 days. If within these 10 days the animal shows signs of rabies infection, the animal must be humanely euthanized in order to test for rabies. Animal Control usually will allow an animal to be quarantined at home under its owner’s supervision.
At its September 20, 2017 meeting, the Board of Supervisors of Arlington County voted unanimously to amend Chapter 2 of the County Code to prohibit residents from keeping wild and exotic animals, as defined in Arlington County Code Chapter 2-18, as pets. The following animals are prohibited as pets in the County effective immediately:
- Non-human primates
- Wolves or wolf hybrids
- Wild cats including hybrids (e.g., bobcat, lynx , and caracal),
- Ratites (flightless birds)
- Venomous snakes, venomous reptiles (already banned and not eligible for registration)
- Any other warm-blooded mammal that can normally be found in the wild state
- Members of the order Scorpiones (scorpions) other than those in the genus Pandinus, which are permitted
- Centipedes of the genus Scolopendra
- Spiders of the genus Latrodectus (widow spiders); spiders of the genus Loxosceles (recluse spiders); spiders of the family Dipluridae (funnel-web spiders); spiders of the genus Phoneutria (banana spiders aka wandering spiders); spiders of the family Ctenizidae (trap-door spiders); spiders of the genus Sicarius (sand spiders); and spiders of the family Theraphosidae (tarantulas), EXCEPT for Theraphosids native to North and South America and Brachypelma smithi (Mexican redknee tarantula), which are permitted.
Rabbits, rats, mice, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and guinea pigs that have been bred in captivity are excluded from the definition of “wild or exotic animal,” and are permitted as pets. Also excluded from this definition and allowed as pets are all domestically bred or legally imported birds that are not ratites, non-venomous snakes, non-venomous reptiles, amphibians, and fish.