Addition to Chapter 612 of Loudoun County's Ordinances

On March 7, 2023, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors adopted a new section of Chapter 612, Dogs and Other Animals, of the Codified Ordinances of Loudoun County that prohibits ownership of certain exotic and venomous species of animals that present a risk to public health and safety. The new section of Chapter 612 of the Codified Ordinances of Loudoun County prohibits private ownership of certain exotic and venomous species of animals that present a risk to public health and safety, such as wolf hybrids, kangaroos, scorpions, baboons, alligators, venomous snakes and other venomous reptiles, and non-native venomous spiders. Loudoun joins other jurisdictions that have similar ordinances, including the Town of Leesburg; Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties; the District of Columbia; and jurisdictions in Maryland.

Wild, Exotic and Venomous Animals Registry

The amended ordinance allows current owners of the animals listed in the ordinance in Loudoun County to keep them but requires that those animals be registered with the county to ensure awareness by first responders in the event of an emergency. The registration period ends May 8, 2023.

“Wild or exotic animal” means any live non-human primate, raccoon, skunk, wolf or hybrid canine, coyote, squirrel, fox, leopard, panther, tiger, lion, cheetah, bear, wild cat (e.g., bobcat, lynx and caracal, serval, ocelot), crocodilian (e.g. alligators, caimans, gavials) venomous snake, venomous reptile, scorpions (other than those in the genus Pandinus); widow, recluse, funnel-web, banana/wandering, sand or trapdoor spiders and tarantulas (except those native to North or South America and the Mexican redknee variety) or any other warm-blooded mammal or marsupial that can normally be found in a wild state. 

All domestically bred or legally imported birds, ratites, non-venomous snakes, non-venomous reptiles, rear-fanged snakes, amphibians, fish, ferrets, rabbits, rats, mice, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, sugar gliders and guinea pigs which have been bred in captivity are excluded from the definition.

The ordinance does not apply to animal programs operated by Loudoun County Public Schools; wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife exhibitors or veterinary clinics which are properly licensed or permitted by the federal government or Commonwealth of Virginia; scientific research facilities; conservation police or animal control officers managing or transporting said animals in the line of duty; the department temporarily housing said animals, or a wildlife sanctuary as defined under the federal Lacey Act. Virginia law already restricts private ownership of many other wild and exotic animals, such as big cats and bears. 

Adoption of the ordinance came after an extensive public process, which included a public information meeting hosted by Loudoun County Animal Services, an online comment form on the county website and a Board of Supervisors public hearing. 

January 2023 Informational Presentation

Loudoun County Animal Services (LCAS) hosted a virtual, informational meeting January 5, 2023. A brief overview of the proposed addition to Chapter 612 was provided.

Previous Board Meetings

The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance changes February 15, 2023. 

On January 17, 2023, the Board of Supervisors considered the proposed changes and forwarded the item to the February 15 public hearing.

In December 2022, the Board's Finance, Government Operations and Economic Development Committee took up the proposed changes.


In November 2022, the Board of Supervisors’  Animal Advisory Committee voted unanimously to support the staff proposal for a new section of the ordinance, which is being proposed by the Department of Animal Services, whose humane law enforcement officers have encountered venomous animals when responding to routine calls for service. LCAS identified a public safety concern after learning no effective anti-venom is readily available in Loudoun County. Informing the proposed ordinance is LCAS officers’ collective experience investigating complaints involving wolf-hybrids, scorpions, monkeys and venomous snake species, which indicates that exotic and venomous species are present in Loudoun County residential settings.