Animal Related Laws

Prince William County and Virginia State animal laws describe the requirements for ownership, care of, and offenses involving animals.  Both county and state animal laws are easily accessible online.  Prince William County, Code of Ordinances, Chapter 4 contains the animal-related laws of the county. Virginia State Code, Title 3.2, Subtitle V, Chapter 65 “Comprehensive Animal Care” contains animal-related laws of the state. The Animal Control Bureau encourages the public to refer to PWC Animal Code in an effort to self-educate on common issues regarding animals.  Some of the most common issues encountered by Animal Control Officers are:

No rabies vaccination

It is unlawful for any person to own, keep or hold or harbor any dog or domesticated cat over the age of four months that do not have a current rabies vaccination administered by a veterinarian.  Please refer to PWC Code Sec. 4-62.

No dog license

It is unlawful for any person to own a dog four months old or over in the county unless the dog is licensed in Prince William County. Please refer to PWC Code Sec. 4-40.

Dog running at large

It is unlawful for a dog owner/custodian to allow their dog to run at large within the county.  "At large" means that the dog is off the property of its owner/custodian and not attached to that person by a leash.  Please refer to PWC Code Sec. 4-23.

Trespass by animal

It is unlawful for the owner/custodian of an animal to allow the animal to trespass on the property of another after being asked by the owner/tenant of the property not to allow the animal to trespass.  Please refer to PWC Code Sec. 4-4. 


Urinating or defecating on the property of others or public property

It is unlawful for the owner of a dog to allow it to urinate or defecate on the private property or on publicly owned property. Please refer to PWC Code Sec. 4-11.

Cruelty to animals

It is unlawful to torture, ill-treat, abandon, willfully inflict inhumane injury or pain; deprive of food, water, or shelter or emergency veterinary treatment; willfully instigate or engage in any act of cruelty to any animal; leave any animal in or upon a vehicle so as to produce torture or unnecessary suffering.  Please refer to VA State Code § 3.2-6570.

Dangerous dog

A dangerous dog is a canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted serious bodily injury on a person and/or a companion animal.   The serious bodily injury must be determined by a medical doctor or licensed veterinarian.  Serious bodily injury refers to a bodily injury which involves substantial risk of death, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of function. Please refer to VA State Code § 3.2-6540.