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.