Update Aug. 31, 2011: Forsyth County, North Carolina County Commissioners have adopted new anti-tethering restrictions though there is no ban on unattended chaining as recommended in 2010 by the County Animal Control Advisory Board.
Under the new law there are a number of restrictions on how dogs can be tethered or chained. The new law does not take effect, however, for 24 months.
For more on the controversy and history of this new law, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
Original report: Calls for Forsyth County, North Carolina county commissioners to act on an anti-tethering proposal were prompted by Charlie. Charlie was found chained so long the chain became embedded in his neck. The chain had to be surgically removed.
The current caretaker discovered the abuse and called animal control. She was supposed to be taking care of the dog but had relied on others to do it allegedly because of her disability. The caretaker, Stella Reynolds, has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. Another person who was supposed to be caring for Charlie for Reynolds is believed responsible for chaining the dog in this way and faces felony animal cruelty charges.
Charlie is safe for now.
The Forsyth County Animal Control advisory board previously recommended restrictions on tethering dogs. Under the proposal it would be illegal to tether a dog unless the animal "is in the visual range of an owner/custodian and the owner/custodian is with the dog". That means unless an owner is with the dog, the animal cannot be tethered outside. That would have saved Charlie.
There would be exceptions for "training, hunting, and performance events, for a period of no more than seven (7) or more consecutive days"; "traditional agriculture activities where tethering is to provide for the safety of the dog"; "recreational activities such as hiking and camping" and for "temporary custodian[s]" for up to seven consecutive days.
Forsyth County Animal Control reports more than 800 complaints each year are about chained pets. More than 80% of the county’s 1,200 animal abuse and neglect cases involved a dog left on a chain. Animal Control Director Tim Jennings said dogs left "permanently" on a tether are more aggressive and have a higher percentage of bites.
In 2009 Asheville passed a sweeping ordinance that bans unattended chaining with few exceptions. Eleven other North Carolina communities restrict chaining: Orange County, Laurinburg, Durham County (Raleigh), North Carolina (eff. Jan. 1, 2010) Sec. 4-62, Roanoke Rapids, Clayton, Cumberland County, Scotland County, Greenville, Catawba County, Surry and New Hanover which has restricted chaining since 1978, Sec. 3.4
Why unattended chaining/tethering of dogs should be banned or severely restricted
Chained dogs tend to be neglected and can be dangerous, straining animal control resources and endangering the community.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and United States Dept of Agriculture (USDA) also oppose chaining dogs.
The Center for Disease Control has said chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite adults. Chained dogs are nearly 5 times more likely to bite children. The National Canine Research Council reports that almost 30% of all fatal dog attacks involve chained or penned dogs. The ASPCA reports 81% of fatal dog attacks involve dogs that are isolated. Go here for more information.
Nicholas Dodman, DVM, Professor, Tufts University, says, "Chaining dogs makes them more aggressive. They are natural social animals and [chaining] induces ‘isolation-induced aggression’ and creates a ‘junkyard’ dog effect. They basically go mad."