How Many Dogs or Cats Can You Own in Virginia?

How many dogs or cats are allowed per household in the state of Virginia? The simple answer to this question is it depends on where in Virginia you live as the Old Dominion has no statewide law that limits how many dogs its residents can own. However, several counties in Virginia have local ordinances that limit the number of dogs and cats to up to four per residence. In the City of Norfolk, for instance, no more than four adult dogs and four adult cats are allowed per household.

Pack of dogs

Virginia residents who want to own more pets than what their municipality allows can obtain a special permit. Moreover, the number of dogs or cats you can own in Virginia also depends on your property size and whether you live in a city or an agricultural area. For example, a Virginia couple living on a 24-acre farm is allowed to keep up to 30 dogs on their property. That said, let's look at pet ownership ordinances in some major Virginia counties and cities.

Henrico County, VA

Residents of the County of Henrico can keep no more than four dogs or cats over the age of four months. Pet enthusiasts looking to keep more than that can apply for a Conditional Use Permit through the County’s Finance Department. However, you must not allow your dogs to run at large in the county. A dog is deemed to be at large when it is found roaming or running off the property of its owner and not under its owner's immediate control.

Any Henrico pet owner who allows his dogs to run at large in the county shall be subject to a civil penalty of $100 per dog so found, in addition to the criminal penalty. Furthermore, your dogs must not kill or injure livestock or poultry in Henrico County. An animal protection police officer or any person who finds a dog in the act of killing or injuring livestock or poultry has the authority to seize or kill such dog forthwith whether or not it bears a tag, according to Henrico County, Virginia - Code of Ordinances.

Fairfax County, VA

The number of dogs that may be kept on a property in Fairfax County depends on the size of the lot. Fairfax County has no law that limits the number of cats a resident can keep on a property. As for dogs, you can keep up to two on any property. Owning three dogs in Fairfax County requires a property of 10,000 square feet, four dogs require a property of 12,500 square feet, five to six dogs require a property of 20,000 square feet, and seven or more dogs require a property of 25,000 square feet.

Virginia Beach, VA

If you live in the city of Virginia Beach, you may own up to four dogs in your home. All dogs and cats over four months of age living in the City of Virginia Beach must be licensed. If you just moved to Virginia Beach, you have a grace period of 30 days to license your pets. Your dogs or cats must not be found running at large in the city.

All dogs must be leashed in city parks, public streets, sidewalks or right-of-ways. In addition, dog owners must see to it that their pets do not disturb the peace of others by barking, whining, howling, or crying without provocation in a loud, continuous or untimely manner. Any owner who does not restrain his or her dog in Virginia Beach shall be guilty of a class 4 misdemeanor. Due to the nature of Virginia Beach’s laws, it’s best to contact your local treasurer's office before buying any animals.

Chesterfield County, VA

In Chesterfield County, VA, it is unlawful to keep more than three adult dogs or cats in any residential district. However, if you wish to exceed local zoning limits, you may apply for a special permit at the county’s zoning office by contacting them at 804-748-1050.

Arlington County, VA

According to the Arlington County Animal Ordinances, no more than three dogs shall be kept in a home. Anyone looking to own more than that must obtain a kennel license from the zoning administrator. All dogs in Arlington County must be leashed and under the control of the owner when in public areas. Furthermore, Arlington County has a pooper-scooper law, which requires dog owners to remove and dispose of feces deposited by their dogs on public areas or another person’s property.

Restricted or Banned Dog Breeds in Virginia

Joyous news for Cane Corso, Rottweiler, Pit Bull, and Doberman owners! Virginia State does not ban or restrict any breed of dog and no county in Virginia has breed-specific laws. However, a dog owner will be held strictly liable if his or her dog bites another animal or a person in public areas.

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