New Jersey’s New Law to Protect Pets

New Jersey’s new care requirements for dogs and other pets and service animals has already proven an effective tool for animal control and law enforcement trying to save animals from exposure to bad weather and inhumane tethering. The new law signed August 7, 2017 amends Title 4, Chapter 19 of New Jersey statutes and provides:


a. No dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal may be exposed to “adverse environmental conditions” for more than 30 minutes unless the animal has continuous access to shelter which means an enclosed, insulated structure with a solid roof, walls and floor with an opening no larger than to allow the animal to enter and exit comfortably, provide shade, and keep the animal at a normal body temperature.

(“Adverse environmental conditions” means (1) when the ambient temperature is 32 degrees F or below, or there are other conditions, such as wind, rain, snow, ice, sleet, or hail, such that a person should reasonably know would pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of the animal, based on the animal’s size, age, physical condition, or thickness of the animal’s hair or fur; or (2) when the temperature is 90 degrees F or above, or the animal is exposed to direct sunlight or hot pavement, such that a person should reasonably know would pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of the animal, based on the animal’s size, age, physical condition, or thickness of thickness of the animal’s fur.)

b. In the event of an evacuation order, it is now illegal not to make every effort to take pets to a safe location. They may not be left indoors unattended or tied up outside.

Proper Shelter

c. All dogs and other pets and service animals must have access to proper shelter regardless of the weather. If the animal is not in the house, he or she must have access to a structure that (1) has ventilation, (2) allows the animal to remain dry and maintain a normal body temperature, (3) allows access to clean, nonfrozen water, (4) provides exposure to natural or artificial light according to a regular cycle of day and night, (5) has sufficient space so that the animal can easily turn around in a full circle and lie down on the animal’s side with limbs outstretched, and (6) has at least three inches of empty space above the head of the animal when the animal is in a normal sitting or standing position in the shelter;

The shelter must be maintained in a manner to minimize the accumulation of any waste, other debris, precipitation, or other moisture inside, surrounding, and underneath the shelter, and to provide reasonable protection from flooding. The shelter must remain upright at all times and be soundly constructed to prevent the sagging or collapse and with no sharp points or edges.

Crawl spaces, areas under a vehicle, structures made with pressure treated wood, cardboard, or other materials easily degraded by the elements won’t comply. And no wire or chain link flooring or really any flooring with openings that allow a paw or hoof to fall through.

These shelter requirements do not apply to breeders, kennels, pet shops, shelters or pounds.

Tethering Restrictions

Those laws that have time limits on tethering dogs have in some cases proven difficult if not impossible to enforce. California’s 3 hour limit on tethering is an example. In this New Jersey law, persons are prohibited from tethering dogs from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. outside and must allow the dog to move 15 feet in any one direction. There are exceptions if the person is outside with the dog or can see the dog at all times. The new law also prohibits tethering outside in adverse weather conditions for more than 30 minutes. Any dog tethered more than 30 minutes must have access to clean non frozen water.

There is also a ban on tethering nursing females and puppies less than four months old.

There are restrictions on the types of collar and tethers that can be used, a ban on tethering with other dogs or on vacant lots or in abandoned buildings.

The new law does not apply to breeders and there are other exceptions.

What You Can Do

The new law requires municipalities or cities to educate the public about the new law. Your help is invaluable in protecting dogs and other pets from weather and inhumane tethering. If you see a potential violation, note the date, time and location; write down the details, and take photos or video. Then call animal control, NJ SPCA or the police. Follow up if the situation is not fixed. There is no provision allowing a concerned citizen to rescuer to take an animal held in violation of these laws. But the authorities may do so if they have a reasonable suspicion the animal is at risk of imminent harm. There are otherwise provisions for corrective warnings, fines, seizure pursuant to a warrant and the like.

OR Anti-Tethering Bill Signed into Law

chained dog.big stock.2Update June 14, 2013: H.B. 2783 easily passed the Oregon state senate and has now been signed into law by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber! Oregon joins California, Nevada, Texas and Delaware in limiting the hours a dog can be chained each day. For more on the trend by local governments as well to limit chaining, go here. For more on the new Oregon law, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below.

Original report: Oregon bill, H.B. 2783, passed the House of Representatives in April by a vote of 45-14 and has now cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee!

H.B. 2783 would make unlawful tethering of a domestic animal a crime punishable by a fine up to $1,000. If the animal suffers serious injury or death as a result of tethering, the crime charged would be animal neglect in the first degree, a Class A misdemeanor. If the animal sustains physical injury as a result of tethering, the crime charged would be animal neglect in the second degree, a Class B misdemeanor.

Unlawful tethering means (1) using a tether that is not a reasonable length given the size of the animal and space and that allows the animal to become entangled in a manner that risks the health or safety of the animal. (2) using a collar that pinches or chokes when pulled. (3) tethers the animal for more than 10 hours in a 24 hour period or for more than 15 hours in a 24 hour period if the tether is attached to a running line, pulley or trolley system.

These provisions do not apply if the owner or person in control of the animal remains in his/her physical presence while he/she is tethered. There are exceptions for campgrounds, recreation areas, transport of the animal, and licensed activities such as hunting. Dogs used for herding, protecting livestock or sledding are exempt.

Notably, the bill would also strengthen and clarify the requirements for adequate shelter. ‘Adequate shelter’ includes a barn, dog house or other enclosed structure sufficient to protect a domestic animal from wind, rain, snow or sun, that has adequate bedding to protect against cold and dampness and that is maintained to protect the domestic animal from weather and physical injury. The bill specifies what is NOT “adequate shelter”: crawl spaces, space under a vehicle, inside of a vehicle if the animal is kept there for a length of time likely to be detrimental to the animal’s health or safety; shelters made from cardboard or other materials easily degraded by weather, carriers or crates designed for temporary housing, shelters with wire or chain-link floors, or shelters surrounded by waste, debris, or other obstructions that could adversely affect the animal’s health.

Under the bill adequate bedding means bedding of sufficient quantity and quality to permit a domestic animal to remain dry and reasonably clean and maintain a normal body temperature.

A failure to provide adequate shelter that results in physical injury to the animal is a crime of animal neglect in the second degree. If the animal suffers severe injury or death as a result of inadequate shelter, the crime would be animal neglect in the first degree. A dog engaged in herding or protecting livestock is exempt under current law.

This bill is sponsored by Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), and is the work of local law enforcement agencies and several organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, Oregon Humane Society, Fences For Fido, and the Oregon Animal Council.

If you live in Oregon, find your state senator here. Call or write (letters or faxes are best) and urge your senator to vote YES on H.B. 2783 and protect animals from cruel tethering and lack of shelter from the elements.

Delaware Limits Most Tethering of Dogs

On August 3, 2012 Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed S.B. 211 into law, thus banning anyone from tethering or chaining a dog more than 18 hours in a 24 hour period. No dog that is under 4 months old may be tethered or chained at all; no dog that is nursing may be tethered chained if the puppies are present. Tethering does not include use of a trolley or moving line. The law does not apply if the dog is on property owned or leased by the owner that is 10 or more acres. 11 Del. C. Section 1325. A first offense means a warning. After that, violators are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Owners Must Be Home to Tether Dog Under New Cleveland Law

On May 23, 2012 the Cleveland City Council passed amendments to the city code that strengthen the ability of animal control to help dogs left on chains. The new law, Section 603.092, prohibits anyone from chaining or tethering an animal in any of the following circumstances:

– For more than six hours in a 24 hour period and not more than 2 consecutive hours with no less than a one-hour period between tetherings 
– Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
– If a heat advisory has been issued by a local or state authority or the National Weather Service 
– If a severe weather warning has been issued by a local or state authority or the National Weather Service 
– If the tether is less than 20 feet in length 
– If the tether allows the animals to touch the fence or cross the property line or cross onto public property 
– If the tether is attached by means of a pinch-type, or choke type collar or if the collar is unsafe or is not properly fitted
– If the tether may cause injury or entanglement 
– If the animal does not have access as required by law to food, water or shelter 
– If the tether is made of a material that is unsuitable for the animal’s size and weight or that causes any unnecessary discomfort to the animal, or
– If no owner or occupant is present at the premises. 

The first violation is a minor misdemeanor and the second a misdemeanor in the fourth degree. A third and subsequent offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree which carries a fine up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 6 months. Also, a violation is a misdemeanor of the first degree if the violation results in illness or injury to the animal.

The local animal control supported the ordinance. Too many times they responded to complaints about barking dogs to find the poor animals left too long tied up outside, tied up improperly, left in bad weather, or tied up without access to water. This ordinance should give animal control the tools to stop the abuse – and neighbors’ complaints about barking.

In fact, Lawrence County, Kansas, adopted an anti-tethering ordinance prohibiting dog owners from keeping dogs chained outside. In 2005, there were 800 calls to the Lawrence Humane Society concerning cruelty to dogs and dog fighting; in 2006 as of September 1, there were only 260 complaints. City officials attribute the decline in large part to the anti-tethering ordinance. 

For more on anti-tethering laws and why it is so important to get dogs off chains, visit this link