Loudoun Co. to reduce time stray dogs held at shelter

If a pet dog runs away, one of the first things most owners will do is call or check the local animal shelter.

Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors says that reality is one good reason to reduce the amount of time stray dogs are held in the county-run shelter.

The code of Virginia requires stray dogs without a microchip or collar with identifying tags be held for five days. The proposed amendment would not affect Virginia law which states that dogs with microchips, tattoos or collars and tags must be held 10 days.

For decades, Loudoun County’s shelter has housed those unidentified dogs for 10 days, to provide owners with more time to realize a pet is lost, and retrieve it from the shelter.

Now, the Board of Supervisors is considering reducing the “stray hold” time to five days.

Proponents say the change would have many benefits: reduce the “inherently stressful” period of time in a kennel, reduce costs of daily care and speed the process of getting complete medical care for the dog, with the goal of enabling him to be more-quickly adopted.

Medical care during the “hold” time in a shelter is largely limited to pain and infection control.

In testifying for the tweak, Nina Stively, director of county animal services, has said from January 2015 through December 2018, of the 956 stray dogs that were returned to their owners, all but two were reunited within five days.

The Board of Supervisors would need to hold a public hearing before the change. The hearing is yet to be scheduled.

In May, the board’s animal advisory committee voted unanimously in favor of reducing the hold time.

The Loudoun County shelter in Waterford will be replaced by a new facility being built in Leesburg, which is scheduled to open next summer.

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