Lawmakers, PETA push for legislation on tethering dogs in Virginia

Virginia Politics

(WAVY) — A young black lab, tethered in a North Carolina backyard, with no shelter from the scorching sun.

That was the unfortunate life of Molly.

“While we were in the field visiting with address next door, I was one of the people out and I noticed Molly and another dog were tethered out next door, without shelter or shade whatsoever,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, the senior vice president of cruelty investigations for PETA, which stands for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.”

 Nachminovitch said as part of a field work program, PETA members try and make the lives of dogs like Molly a little easier.

But now, they’re pushing for legislation that would prevent owners from leaving their dogs out 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We have a program that serves them year-round. In the winter, we deliver straw and in summer, we deliver dog houses, toys, water buckets, free food and other services,” she said.

The group knocked on Molly’s owners door back in 2017, asking for permission to visit with her, and from there, they tried to educate Molly’s owners.

Nachminovitch says they continuously asked to take Molly, but were denied by the owners.

So, they created a relationship with the owners to make sure they could keep an eye on her and another dog on the property.

They brought in dog houses so there was shade and even kept up with Molly’s medical care by providing surgeries she needed.

“Even when we brought her back, they refused to bring her inside to recover,” said Nachminovitch.

After 18 visits over the course of a year, a crew came to check on Molly and found her dead, buried in a shallow grave in the back yard.

It was a grave they think Molly dug herself to try and keep cool, Nachminovitch said.

She says the owners knew Molly had died.

“When our field worker went back there she saw Molly was still tethered, covered in flies, left to decompose in a shallow grave,” she said.

PETA took Molly’s remains and a veterinarian ruled she died from heat stroke.

From there, PETA did everything they could to hold Molly’s owners accountable.

“They were charged with cruelty to animals,” Nachminovitch said.

She says they’re not allowed to own another animal again.

Unfortunately, cases like Molly’s are not uncommon. Nachminovitch says some places across Virginia and North Carolina have addressed tethering dogs 24/7.

But other places in Virginia haven’t, and that’s where Senate Bill 272 comes in.

The bill was introduced by Virginia Sen. John Bell, D-District 13.

“We’re really involved in animal rescue. We have fostered over 50 dogs in our home that we rescued,” Bell said.

He knows about Molly’s case and also about Holly Berry, a dog in Franklin, Virginia that was tethered. Her bones were easily visible because she was malnourished.

Holly Berry was rescued before it was too late.

“She had a multitude of health issues. She was dehydrated, she was anemic because she [had] untreated parasites,” Nachminovitch said.

“To me, this is trying to give a voice to those animals who have no voice,” Bell said.

“What Senator Bell’s bill is expected to do is prohibit people from leaving their animal tethered unattended. So, for example, when they’re not home or during overnight hours or during weather conditions that would pose a threat to those animals. Below 32, above 85 degrees, or during weather extremes,” Nachminovitch said.

PETA says if passed it will no doubt save lives in Virginia.

Nachminovitch hopes other states will also move forward with similar legislation to continue to save the lives of animals.

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