ACTION ALERT: Arlington County, Virginia

UPDATE: Proposal amended and second hearing postponed until June 17.

Please wait for updates!

This is a broadly sweeping and far overreaching proposal! It will outright ban the future ownership of many very commonly kept species and includes vague language which bans all pets except dogs, cats, and fish.

The quick details:

  1. Current owners will have only 60 days from the effective date to either register or "dispose of" each animal, and would thereafter be required to obtain annual permit for each animal kept. The addition of future animals would be banned (meaning you could not get a pet hedgehog or corn snake next year).
  2. BANNED: Snakes exceeding four (4) feet in length;
  3. BANNED: the following list of “wild or exotic animals” would be banned: hedgehog, sugar glider, all non-human primates, raccoon, skunk, wolf and wolf hybrids, coyote, squirrel, fox, leopard, panther, tiger, lion, bear, small wild cats including hybrids (meaning all but domestic cat, Felis catus), all crocodilians
  4. BANNED: any other warm-blooded animal, poisonous snake or reptile or tarantula that can normally be found in the wild state (This is the vague language mentioned.)
  5. BANNED: breeding of all above species.
  6. All movement of registered animals (within and out of County) must be reported to the Animal Control Agency;
  7. Deaths/euthanizations of animals must be reported
  8. Failure to register may result in "seizure or disposal of the animal at cost to the owner;"
  9. First-time penalty is Class 4 misdemeanor and fine up to $250 (per day). Second penalty is Class 3 misdemeanor and fine up to $500 (per day).

The full proposal can be found at The proposal is in red text.

Submit comments by one or more of the below methods:

1. Email:,

2. Quick Action Alert: After sending emails to the above, complete the quick Action Alert at

3. In–person statement: Attend the public hearing on April 22 at 8:30 a.m. in the County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Third Floor, Arlington, VA 22201

4. Online: Arlington CiviComment tool at

5. Mail or hand delivery to below. Write "NO to Chapter 2 exotic animal ban" or similar on envelope.

Arlington County Department of Human Services
Attn: Lyn Hainge
2100 Washington Blvd., Second Floor
Arlington, VA 22204

Sample letter/statement (Remember to be professional and civil at all times!)

Email address and mailing address can be found above.

Copy/paste one of these subject lines, or write your own:

  1. NO to Chapter 2 exotic animal ban
  2. Chapter 2 animal proposal is unjust and unsound
  3. Chapter 2 revisions are unjust
  4. Chapter 2 proposal is bad government

Copy/paste this sample letter. It is important to personalize/edit at least some of the letter.

Arlington County Board,

As a responsible Arlington County pet owner, I would like to voice my opposition to the proposed changes to Chapter 2. These amendments will unjustly remove my freedom to responsibly keep many common pet species. Frankly, the proposal is irrational and far overreaching without warrant or justification. It's an extreme example of bad government and nanny statism. Also, there is already a State law regulating many of these species (4 VAC 15-30-10).

According to a recent study from the American Pet Products Association (APPA), over 32% of American households have pet species other than dogs and cats. This proposed change potentially affects 1/3 of Arlington County residents. Many people who keep non-traditional or exotic pets, also breed them on occasion and sell the offspring. The responsible keeping and breeding of these animals in no way negatively affects my neighbors or the County.

It can only be assumed that this proposal is a completely biased step to remove all non-traditional pets from Arlington County. The animal someone chooses to keep responsibly as a pet is not your decision to make. In many situations, non-traditional pets are better suited to households than dogs or cats, especially in urban areas such as Arlington.

How did you decide upon the completely arbitrary ban on 4' snakes? The two most common pet species, corn snake and ball pythons, both reach lengths over 4'. There are literally tens of thousands on these snakes kept as pets, not to mention the dozens of other species which get longer than 4'. Constrictor snakes (both mentioned species are constrictors) do not pose a public safety risk or a risk to first responders.

Let's review your stated illogical reasoning:

  1. "better protect humans and animals"-Removing the freedom of pet choice from responsible Americans does absolutely nothing to protect animals or humans.
  2. "align Arlington with neighboring jurisdictions"-Is doing what your neighbor does always a good idea? Why is replicating a bad law a good idea?
  3. "provide additional safety for first responders"-Are you saving first responders from 4-ounce sugar gliders or 12-ounce hedgehogs as the larger species listed are already on the statewide restricted animal list? While the concern is appreciated, as are our first responders, the restricted animals located in Virginia could be obtained from the State.

It is most troubling that, apparently, these proposed changes are simply due to biases by members of the Board. This is a tyrannical abuse of power. You are using your authority to remove freedoms simply because you don’t agree with them. There is no rational reasoning to support this amendment.

This action is un-American and unjust. I hope you’ll address concerns from those affected. Thank you for your time and consideration on behalf of this Arlington County resident and have a good day.


Article written by USARK