2007 State Anti-Tethering Bills

 State legislatures around the country have considered restrictions on tethering or chaining dogs. Here’s how these bills have fared:  

There is increasing recognition tethering, chaining and penning are not only inhumane, these practices can make for dangerous dogs. New Mexico passed a resolution, H.M. 19, that commissions the Department of Public Safety to investigate whether these practices are inhumane and may create a danger to the public.

With a twist on the California law passed in 2006, Texas’ new anti-chaining law, HB 1411, goes into effect this month. The law basically bans chaining of dogs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., within 500 feet of a school and during extreme weather conditions such as when temperatures fall below 32 degrees F or there is a heat advisory or hurricane warning. Chains must be fitted to collars that are at least 1 inch bigger than the dog’s neck. Chains must be 5 times longer than the dog or 10 feet long, whichever is longer. The dog must not be chained in any manner that is unsafe or will cause injury to the dog.

There are a number of exceptions, though. While under the California law, dogs cannot be chained at all except for up to 3 hours each day while the owner is performing some task, the Texas law creates an exception from all chaining restrictions for owners performing tasks; these owners can leave their dogs chained in any manner for up to 3 hours each day. Like the California law, the new Texas law exempts the use of trolleys and dogs used for herding livestock or while their owners are working in some farm-related business.    

A copy of the law is in ALC’s Laws.

This summer the Tennessee legislature passed anti-tethering legislation, and Governor Phil Bredesen, signed it on June 27, 2007. Tennessee Code Section 39-14-202, is amended by making it illegal to "knowingly tie[], tether[], or restrain[] a dog in a manner that results in the dog suffering bodily injury". Not a ban or even a limit on the time a dog can be tethered, but it’s a start.

Maryland legislators once again failed to pass an anti-tethering bill this year. Nevada‘s bill that would have limited tethering, chaining and penning of dogs failed because the Chairman of a Senate Committee, Sen. Dean Rhoads, refused to let it come to a vote by the committee.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina legislature withdrew a bill limiting tethering or chaining to a fixed object to 3 hours per day and to a cable trolley device to 6 hours each day. Local communities would have had the option of increasing or reducing the allotted time for tethering or chaining.

But the good news is New Hanover County, North Carolina has already banned tethering or chaining of dogs; Durham, North Carolina is considering such a law.

Currently, New York is considering bills, NY S.O. 2052 and the Assembly counterpart, A.B. 6553, that would restrict tethering or chaining including use of any trolley device to no more than 6 hours in a 24 hour period. The trolley device and the attached tether must each be at lest 10 feet long. Any tether or chain attached to a fixed object must be at least 15 feet long. The tether or chain must be attached to a properly fitted collar and not a choke or prong type collar.

To contact New York legislators and urge them to pass S.B. 2052 and A.B. 6553, click here.

Find and Contact New York State Senators; Find and Contact New York Assembly Members

Rhode Island proposes to extend limitations on tethering or chaining to penned dogs as well. Under a proposal now floundering in the Rhode Island House and Senate, RI H.B. 5179 and S.B. 527 would make it illegal to keep any dog "outside tethered, penned, caged, fenced or otherwise confined for more than 30 minutes" without access to shelter.

When the ambient temperature is beyond the industry standard for the weather safety scale as set forth in the most recent adopted version of the Tufts Animal Care and Condition Scale (TACC), the shelter must be "the proper size for that dog, …impervious to moisture, contain[] dry bedding material, ha[ve] a floor that is at least four (4) inches off the ground and ha[ve] a wind break at the entrance".

Also, under this proposal dogs could not be left tethered or chained for more than 2 hours without their person present and tethered or chained no more than 10 hours a day. Dogs could not be confined in a pen, cage or other container for more than 18 hours in a 24 hour period.

Under the proposed law the tether or chain must be at least 6 feet long and not tangled. The dog must have access to food and water.

Click on these links to find Rhode Island legislators; contact them and urge them to support H.B. 5179 and S.B. 527! Find Rhode Island State Senators; Find Rhode Island State Representatives

In Pennsylvania H.B. 1065 was recently introduced to try to restrict tethering and chaining in that state. The proposed law now in the House Appropriations Committee would ban tethering or chaining between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Also, any tether or chain must be at least 6 feet long or 5 times as long as the dog, whichever is longer. The tether or chain must be attached so that it does not become tangled or cause the dog injury and must allow the dog access to food, water and adequate shelter from the sun. The tether or chain must be attached to a properly fitted collar; no choke, pinch or prong-type collars maybe used. To find your Pennsylvania legislator and urge him or her to pass H.B. 1065, click here. Find Your Pennsylvania Legislator

Dogs used for herding other animals are excepted; also dogs may be chained for safety during agricultural operations or on camping or other recreational trips.

A pending Maine bill would amend the state’s existing restrictions on tethering, 7 MRSA §4015, sub-§6, to require removal of the dog from the tether or chain at least 3 consecutive hours each day and also during extremely hot or cold weather or other weather -related events like hurricanes, tropical storms, or wind chill warnings. The new law would require access to food, water and an adequate shelter; the tether or chain would be required to be attached to avoid becoming tangled or causing the dog injury or difficulty. The tether or chain must be attached to a properly fitted collar and that does not include choke or pinch collars.

Contact Maine legislators about this bill: Find and Contact Maine State Senators; Find and Contact Maine State Representatives

In New Jersey bills NJ A. 2773 & S. 1705 would require that if tethered or chained, the animal can still reach food, water or shelter and move around sufficiently;’ the new law would require that the tethering or chaining not cause injury. Not really much help for the animals. These bills would not require owners to remove the animals from the tethers or chains at all, ever. But it’s a start and with education, could be an effective beginning to an effort to remove dogs from chains.

Contact your New Jersey legislators about these bills.
Find Your New Jersey Legislators