Backyard Dogs

The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund has made major grants annually since 2016 to support the many programs of PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department / Community Animal Project.


The Project has provided testimony and public education since 2017 in support of Virginia statewide legislation to protect backyard dogs. In spring 2019, SB 1025, sponsored by Virginia Senator Lionell Spruill, Sr., was signed into law by the Governor. The bill strengthens language requiring adequate shelter and space for companion animals kept outdoors, including proper insulation from winter temperatures and shade in the summer.

The Project's services for low-income residents of Virginia and North Carolina include: 

  • Sterilizing over 10,000 companion animals per year.  Many of the surgeries are performed free of charge.
  • Educating dog owners about proper care, and encouraging them to bring dogs inside - with approaches ranging from one-on-one conversations, to billboards along major highways, to televised public service announcements.
  • Delivering sturdy dog houses, straw insulation, and donated food for backyard dogs.
  • Securing the release of backyard dogs when owners are unable to provide minimum legally required care.
  • Partnering with a network of local shelters and rescue groups to re-home former backyard dogs, and hosting an annual Poochella adopt-a-thon.
  • Working with local jurisdictions to draft regulations to ban or restrict backyard dog chaining and penning.
Backyard Dogs

The Project has also conducted hurricane relief work in its home region, and in Texas and Puerto Rico.

In 2013, Greg adopted Itchy, a senior dog who was rescued by PETA after at least seven years penned outdoors.


In 2018, Greg's surviving family adopted Christopher, who had been penned outdoors for at least two years before PETA rescued him and partnered with the Virginia Beach SPCA to rehome him.