Governor Approves Nevada Anti-Tethering Law!

Chained dog

Update May 27, 2009: Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has approved S.B. 132, and it is now law!  (A copy of the new law is attached at the end of this article and can be downloaded.)

Karen Goodman, a Nevada resident, led a grass roots effort to pass this bill and stop cruel chaining of dogs in Nevada, and thanks to her and your calls, emails and letters to legislators and the governor, thousands of dogs will live and live better lives. 

Nevada is now the 3rd state, along with Texas and California to limit specifically the number of hours dogs can be tethered or chained each day.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2009 in Nevada dogs cannot be chained more than 14 hours per day, and any tether must be at least 12′ long or if it is a pulley or trolley, allow the dog to move at least 12 feet in one direction. 

Nevada joins 12 other states in placing restrictions on tethering or chaining: California (Health & Safety Code Sec. 122335), Texas (Tex. Health & Safety Code Sec. 821.077), Connecticut, (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-350a), Tennessee (Tenn. Code §39-14-202), Delaware (7 Del. C. § 1704), Maryland, (Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code §10-623), Michigan (Mi. Comp. Laws § 750.50), Vermont (13 V.S.A. § 365), Maine (M.R.S. § 4015), North Carolina (N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-362.3); Virginia (Va. Code §3.2-6500) and West Virginia (W. Va. Code § 61-8-19(a)(1)(H)).

For more on this bill, read ALC’s earlier reports below.

Update May 16, 2009: By a vote of 32-8, the Nevada Assembly has passed S.B. 132, the landmark bill that will restrict the number of hours a dog can be chained to 14 per day and require that any tether be at least 12′ long or if it is a pulley or trolley, allow the dog to move at least 12 feet in one direction. 

The state senate has already passed the bill. It’s on to the governor.

Tethering or chaining is both cruel and dangerous to chain dogs for long periods. Nevada animal control support this bill. Dogs that are chained for long periods 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 for long periods. 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. 

S.B. 132 is a common sense bill that allows people to tether dogs while they are at work and then helps get dogs off chains for a period of time each day for much needed socialization and exercise. Tell the governor signing this bill, S.B. 132, is a matter of community safety and stopping animal cruelty.  

Original report: The Nevada Senate has voted to pass the anti-tethering bill, S.B. 132!! The vote was almost unanimous, just one no vote from Sen. Bernice Mathews (She is in her last term…..)

Chained dogsThe bill was amended in the Senate.

The amended bill, S.B. 132, reflects a limit of 14 hours per day for tethering and also restricts the use of choke, chain and prong collars in tethering or chaining dogs.

The amendments clarify that a tether, tie, chain or other restraint must be at least 12 feet long. Dogs tied to a stationary object must have a restraint that allows the dog to move at least 12 feet. Dogs tied on trolleys or pulleys must be able to move a total of at least 12 feet.  

Also, the amended version does not specify pen sizes for dogs but does state enclosures should be appropriate for the size and breed of the dog.

The bill would not apply to dogs (1) kept by veterinarians or in a boarding facility or shelter or temporarily at a campsite or as part of a rescue operation, (2) being trained for hunting or used for hunting during hunting season, (3) entered in an exhibition, show, contest or the like; (4) living on land that is directly related to an active agricultural operation if the restraint is reasonably necessary to ensure the safety of the dog; (5) whose owners are engaged in a temporary task up to one hour.  

"[A]gricultural operation" means "any activity necessary for the commercial growing and harvesting of crops or the raising of livestock and poultry."

Before the bill was voted on by the state Senate today, it was considered by the Senate Natural Resources Committee which held a hearing before voting to pass it. During the hearing, senate committee members heard from supporters and opponents of S.B. 132.   

One of the witnesses was Dr. Frank McMillan, a long practicing board certified veterinarian, clinical professor of veterinary medicine, and noted author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters as well as the textbook, Mental Health and Well-being in Animals.

Dr. McMillan told the committee,"The term ‘emotional pain’ has been around a long time, but only recently has research in neuroscience shown that this is not just flowery language – that the brain circuitry of animals is wired to induce emotional feelings that hurt.  In fact, the neurological systems controlling the emotions of loneliness are located in the brain right next to the circuits that give physical pain its hurtful sensation. The evidence now suggests that the feelings of loneliness evolved from the more primitive feelings of physical pain. 

"And while physical suffering gets all the attention, the fact is that emotional suffering in animals can be even more distressing than physical pain.  In the lab, researchers have compared an animal’s response when forced to choose between physical and emotional pain.  Consider one simple experiment that is particular relevant to the issue of dogs being left alone on a chain: Researchers separated dogs from their human companions and put an electrified metal grid between them.  The dog had a choice: endure the emotional pain of loneliness, or endure the physical pain of electric shocks to rejoin their human companion.  What do they choose?  It isn’t even close.  They overwhelmingly choose to cross the grid-being shocked the whole way.  They choose to suffer the physical pain in order to spare themselves the emotional pain. 

"[T]he next time you see a dog that is living his life on a chain, …know that the suffering is there – inside – and that that dog is shackled to his own personal pain – until someone unchains him from it."

Nevada breeders, however, have decided to oppose this bill that would eliminate cruel chaining of dogs.  The Nevada Veterinary Medical Association has also announced opposition to the bill, S.B. 132. 

Talking points – Why Nevada legislators should vote yes on this bill

•1) CDC-Chained dogs are 5x more likely to bite children, 3x more likely to bite adults.

•2) American Vet Medical Assoc.-many fatal attacks and dog bites involve animals that have been restrained.

•3) Nat’l Canine Research Council-Almost 30% of all Fatal attacks are from chained or penned dogs.

•4) ASPCA-81% of fatal attacks were by dogs that were isolated.Chained dog

•5) Cornell Univ. College of Vet Med-both chained and penned dogs suffer from similar behavior problems. 

•6) HSUS-Dogs kept continuously outdoors, chained or penned, will suffer from the same boredom, loneliness & isolation leading to aggressive behavior.

•7) Nicholas Dodman, Ph.D. in vet med/Tufts Univ-"chaining dogs makes them more aggressive.  They are natural social animals & it induces "isolation-induced aggression" & creates a "junkyard" dog effect.  They basically go mad."

14 thoughts on “Governor Approves Nevada Anti-Tethering Law!”

  1. this law should be passed. there are people out there that leave there dogs on a leash or( should i say a a 4ft log chain) all the time with no place to hide or get out of the weather, i myself have seen this with my own 2 eyes. and this is wrong.

  2. The proposed legislation (SB132)should become Nevada law. Anyone concerned about the plight and suffering of dogs should contact their state senators and urge them to support SB132. I am tired of seeing dogs staked on a short rope or chain and left outside 24 hours per day.
    Animal control needs legal authority to make dog owners responsible for the humane care of their pets. Our dogs can’t speak for themselves so we have to stand up and speak for them!

  3. There is a message center for all of the Nevada Senators involved with this bill. It is easy to make one call in support of passing this bill. The message center will let all of the Senators know that you are against the chaining of dogs and for the bill s.b. 132.

  4. Time and time again, dogs that find themselves in trouble also have a past history of being chained. For the good of the community, for the good of the dogs, do what you can to help pass this bill.

  5. Dogs deserve much more respect, they do so much to make our lives better. Dogs are our companions, eyes for the blind they work in rescue, the list goes on. It is the least we can do to try to treat them with compassion.

  6. My dog kennel with 20 5×16 foot runs, with air-conditioned ventilated boxes does not qualify, I hopefully assume, as an outdoor enclosure because of the interior boxes to which the runs are attached.

    The law must include amendments to clearly define the term ‘outdoor enclosure’, which is *not* in the current definitions section. Failure to do so puts dog owners at peril.


  7. Thank you for encouraging support of this bill.
    I have contacted my representatives with the following letter, a modification of one of your sample letters:

    Dear Senator:

    Re: Supporting SB132

    As a Nevadan resident, I urge you to support SB132. There is virtually no sadder sight that the dogs this bill aims to protect. They are the forgotten dogs, relegated to the status of lawn ornaments, and ignored by the family. They are the chained and penned dogs.

    Many chained or penned dogs are seriously neglected. They lack fresh, unfrozen water, adequate housing, hygiene and the most basic veterinary care. Many of these dogs suffer from parasites. They are forced to eat, sleep and defecate in the same penned area. Or if they’re tethered, the tethers are dragged through their filth, sometimes catching, snagging, and choking dogs to death. Winter in Northern Nevada is harsh for outdoor dogs. In the summer, the heat across the state is unbearable. Doghouses are often even hotter than the air.

    Continuously confined dogs develop many behavior problems such as barking, crying, digging, and chewing on themselves. Unsocialized dogs can become very territorial and aggressive. Children who wander into the dog’s small space, can easily be attacked. The CDC reports that chained dogs are five times more likely to bite children and three times more likely to bite adults. The National Canine Research Council estimates that nearly 30% of all fatal dog attacks are from chained or penned dogs.

    Furthermore, researchers are confirming the link between abuse and neglect of animals and abuse and neglect of children and perpetration of future crimes. Fostering compassion towards animals is a necessary step towards creating a positive, peaceful society. SB132 will help foster compassion towards animals.

    I urge you to protect dogs – loving and loyal animals – from lives of loneliness and deprivation. Please support SB132 to limit the chaining and penning of dogs.

    Elaine Vigneault

  8. The law doesn’t need to be more clear. You need to abide by the terms set in the bill as they read, not as you believe they should be written.

  9. Write and encourage everyone you know to write in on this one. Dogs on chains loose the “flight” aspect of the flight or fight response to anything scary to them. This gets dogs into trouble by conditioning them to fight mode when they are afraid. This bill will save dogs lives by reducing dog bites. And the dogs deserve better than to live on a chain.

    This is important!

  10. Nevada residents that have a dog should write their state senator and urge them to support SB132. We must speak out and defend those that cannot speak for themselves. Most caring people consider their pets to be members of their family. Unfortunately there are some dog owners who consider dogs to be a piece of merchandise or an item that has no feelings.
    They neglect their dogs and leave them tied up outside all day and all night. Other dog owners lock their pets in tiny enclosures and never provide any exercise or companionship. It is time to give animal control officers the authority they need to cite these irresponsible dog owners. SB132 is important legislation so write to your senator today.

  11. I support this bill. I hope to have more officers available to go to animal abuse cases. Every time I call to report a case I am told we only have 1 officer and they don’t work weekends.

  12. Good, I’m glad that it passed. Good job for making this bill on your own.

  13. Good on you, Karen and all who worked so long and hard. Why it is always an uphill climb for compassion vs. the law, I do not know, but it is and all we can do is keep hoping and working.
    I will make my emails and calls today and pray we prevail for all those miserable chained dogs!

  14. Karen,

    I know we’ve spoken about your work on this law for a long long time now. You never gave up, knew exactly what you needed, knew what pictures and info you were looking for, you never gave in and let the honesty of the chained dog situation in Nevada speak for itself. Thank you for everything. Please let me know when you are ready to do that interview.

    My deepest admiration,

    Dawn Ashby
    Dogs Deserve Better

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