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Local Laws and Codes

Frequently Asked About 

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Pet owners should be aware of the requirements, laws, and codes governing the keeping and care of their pets.  Regulatory codes can be found in the Virginia Comprehensive Animal Laws, the Virginia Administrative Code, Code of Stafford County including local Zoning Ordinances. Below are some; but not all, of the requirements, laws, and codes owners should be knowledgeable of. It should be noted that in Stafford and most surrounding jurisdictions, animal offenses cannot be prepaid which means you will need to appear in court. Most animal offenses are criminal offenses ranging from Class 4 Misdemeanors to Class 6 Felonies.


Adequate Care, Cruelty

These offenses are taken seriously in Stafford County. Each year we respond to hundreds of complaints to check on the welfare of animals. Animal can live outside, year round, with the proper provisions. Most of these cases result in educating the public on code requirements as defined and others result in seizing the animals and criminal charges. In accordance with current weather situations, officers usually carry in their vehicles, items they can hand out to provide the animals comfort such as shavings, blankets or potable water. Our office works with different scout groups to build adequate dog houses that can be picked up by residents who are in need of better shelter for their animals. View Section 5-6 of the Stafford County code.


View here for 5-7 of the Stafford County Code.


Leash Law

The “leash law” in Stafford is in effect year round in any subdivision or mobile home park. Animals will be impounded running at large on County property, places of business or found not displaying a current county license.  View Section 5-24 of the Stafford county Code for more information.


For the purpose of lawful hunting, dogs are permitted to run on the respective property in accordance with state laws regarding hunting regulations. Dogs shall not be allowed to “run at large” in the months of April through September in accordance with Section 5-23 of the Stafford County Code.


Trespass by animals in general, is prohibited. All animals fall into this category including poultry, livestock cats etc. Please respect your neighbors in keeping your animals to your property. 


Fees for impounded livestock and other animals vary and will be paid by the person or company hauling  the animal(s). Vet expenses and general care of the animals will be paid to the person in custody of them. View Section 5-20 of the Stafford County Code for more information.


Reclaim fees

Once a dog is picked up, the owner must pay a $30 reclaim fee and $5 each day for boarding fees.


Dangerous or Vicious Dog(s)


In accordance with State code 3.2-6540 and County code 5-57 Any dog that has bitten, attacked or inflicted an jury on a person or seriously injured another companion animal is a dangerous dog. A hearing is REQUIRED to determine if the dog is indeed dangerous. Officers have no choice and SHALL obtain the proper paperwork from the magistrate for a hearing. More information can be found on the hearing, registration process and penalties in regards to Dangerous or Vicious dogs under these code sections.


Noise Ordnance

Noise from animals complaints are responded to daily. They are the hardest to help people with, both complainant and animal owner. Please be respectful of your neighbors and train or contain your animals if they are disturbing one or more members of the community. The noise from animals’ code is not restricted to particular hours and is in affect twenty four hours a day. In the event that the noise continues after the owner has been put on notice, legal action may be taken and addressed in general district court.


(Section 16-6 A7) Allowing any animal or bird to create noise that is plainly audible at least once a minute for ten (10) consecutive minutes (i) inside the confines of the dwelling unit, house, or apartment of another person, or (iii) at a distance of fifty (50) feet or more from the animal or bird. This subsection shall not apply to apply to any animal or board that is part of an active agricultural operation.


Exotic Animals

Exotic animals are prohibited in Stafford County. Exotic animals require specific veterinary needs which are not readily available and most species pose a threat to other domestic animals and humans. Animals permitted by the Commonwealth that do not require a permit or zoological license will be considered in Stafford. For more information:  View  Article VI of the Stafford County Code.



Rabies is a deadly virus and is taken seriously in Stafford County. People or animals coming in contact with a rabid or potentially rabid animal should immediately report the incident to Animal Control. The Code of Virginia and Stafford County Code requires that dogs and domesticated cats that are 4 months old or older be inoculated against rabies.  View Section 5-66 of the County Code for more information. Violation of this section is a class four misdemeanor.



Section 5-41 of the Stafford County Code states that it shall be unlawful for any person to own a dog 4 months old or older in the county, unless such dog is currently licensed under the provisions of this division. For more information, read about dog and kennel licenses.


Spay /Neuter Requirement Sterilization of an animal adopted from this shelter is required under 3.2-6574B of the Code of Virginia. Failure to do so is a violation and may be subject to a civil penalty 3.2-6574F. Adopter may be compelled to comply with the provisions of  3.2-6574F.


For more information about our code of ordinances in Stafford County please click the link below

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