An eye for an eye, a snout for a beak. That’s the way things sometimes work in Virginia, where the law on the books not only allows citizens who own chickens to shoot dogs attacking their flock, but requires animal control officers to put down “confirmed poultry killers” on sight.
With backyard hens becoming more popular among urban locavores, Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) wants to amend the law that she says was written mostly with rural populations in mind.
“That law makes sense in a rural setting where your poultry is part of your livelihood, but you can imagine if that were to happen in a densely-populated urban area, it might not be such a good idea,” McClellan says.
Far from being a hypothetical scenario, McClellan says she has seen the law play out near her home district.
“This was brought to a city councilman’s attention by a woman in Hanover who had her dog killed by her neighbor,” McClellan says. “The neighbor claimed the dog was chasing her chickens, so she killed the dog. The dog owner said she didn’t believe her, but there’s nothing she could do about it because of the code on the books.”