- Animals & Pets
Calls for Service
To request an Animal Control officer, call dispatch at (757) 385-4444 and select “Option #1.” Officers are on routine patrol from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. There is also an officer on stand-by duty for emergencies after 11 p.m.
Rabid Animals or Animal Attacks
The best way to prevent rabies is to make sure your animals are vaccinated. If you or someone you know is attacked by an animal, wounds should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water. Injured parties should then report to the hospital to check for rabies and other diseases. Report the bite/attack to Animal Control at (757) 385-4444. If the animal that bit you is a pet (dog, cat, etc.), it should be watched for signs of rabies for 10 days. For additional information on rabies prevention, visit the Rabid Animals page.
Encounters with wild animals are common, due to the city's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, large rural areas, and the Great Dismal Swamp and Back Bay wildlife refuges. Fox, otter, snakes, seals, bats, deer, opossum, raccoons, and other wildlife, including a rare black bear, have been spotted within city limits. If you encounter a wild animal, it's best to simply leave it alone.
Nuisance or Problem Animals
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) provides information on what to do if you encounter nuisance species on your property, such as a snake in your house or a raccoon in your attic. Visit their website. VDGIF also maintains a list of licensed trappers who can assist residents with certain types of wildlife nuisance problems. Alternatively, citizens may legally use humane traps to remove animals from their homes or property.
Stranded or Distressed Animals
If an animal appears to be orphaned, dead, sick, injured or stranded, please report it to the appropriate authorities. Don’t approach or touch a wild animal even if appears to need help; a docile-looking animal can bite or scratch. The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team responds to stranded sea turtles or marine mammals (dolphins, whales, seals, manatee), both dead and alive. Call (757) 385-7575 to report a problem or visit the Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Program page for more information. For all other wildlife, contact Animal Control at (757) 385-4444.
Preparing Pets for Disasters
The following guidelines will help you prepare your pet in the event of a disaster.
- Keep a pet emergency kit with a few days’ worth of medication, your pet’s medical and vaccination records, a leash, collar, identification, water, food, toys, and bedding.
- Make sure your animals have permanent identification (microchip, brand, tattoo, etc.).
- Purchase a pet carrier and label it with emergency contact information.
- Store water and feed for emergencies.
- Create an emergency contingency plan for animals (including horses and livestock) that addresses transportation, water, and feed, as well as confinement areas, if needed.
For more information on what to do with your pet in an emergency, visit the Emergency Preparedness pages.