Input Needed Regarding Tethering Ordinances

Request from a reader:  A municipal animal control is researching the issue of tethering.  The unit is considering drafting a tethering ordinance and is trying to find relevant studies, as opposed to opinions.  Any ordinance they may come up with will be drafted with the following in mind:

  • They do not want to increase impounds.
  • They do not want to penalize low income dog owners.

Can you help provide links to any information you think might be useful regarding the issue of tethering?  Again, they are hoping to find actual studies, not opinion based articles.  Do you have a link to a tethering ordinance you believe to be a good model?  As a responsible tetherer, I am pleased to see a group researching this issue thoroughly in advance and not simply caving to the Chaining=Torture hysteria too prevalent in the animal welfare world.

16 thoughts on “Input Needed Regarding Tethering Ordinances

  1. I live in Lee County, FL where, in April of 2014, we passed new legislation regarding spay/neuter, breeding, tethering. I cannot find the link to the actual ordinances but attached in a news articles with a synopsis. I’ve read the ordinance and there are some tethering exceptions for “working dogs” as there is a powerful agriculture (read MEAT) presence here.

    1. Ugh – hate to hear of MSN being passed anywhere. A proven failure everywhere it’s been tried.

      The anti-tethering ordinance appears to be ugly as well:

      Under the new laws, pets can’t be fastened, chained, tethered or tied to trees, buildings, fences or posts. If you are going to leave them outside, the minimum area has to be 32 square feet for each animal and it has to be covered.

      The area where I tether my fence jumper is covered, but only partially so I guess I’d be in violation straight off the top. No idea what the square footage is.

  2. I live in Durham, NC, and we have had an anti-tethering law in place since 2008. In practice, I believe the sheriff’s department does not automatically cite owners or confiscate dogs unless there is evidence of other cruelty/neglect. Instead, they refer the owners to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, who build fences (and provide free spaying.neutering for every dog they build a fence for) so people have an alternative to chaining. It appears to be working really well, and it has not resulted in more dogs ending up in the pound. The key is that there MUST be an alternative for dog owners, so I think it would be pretty much impossible to do without a non-profit group like the Coalition. The ordinance can be found here: The Coalition’s web page is here:

      1. Have you tried a hot wire along the top of your fence? Years ago, we had a saluki that would not stay in a fenced yard, 4′ OR 6′ high, but we put a line of hot wire around the top and that stopped her jumping. It also kept a neighbor’s dog out that liked to jump in and out of yards and cause problems. “Hot wire” doesn’t mean high voltage electrocution potential, just an unpleasant zap to the nose if she started to climb and go over. There are varying units, from mild zap (usually includes the solar powered ones) to quick sting (bull units).

      2. I’m glad it helped in your case. We have over an acre of land in a rural area, some of it wooded. We receive many wildlife visitors on the property including those who jump over, climb over and wriggle through the fence. It would not be feasible, safe or ethical to put an electric wire over the top of the fencing here. Even if it were a smaller sized suburban backyard, I would not want to shock my little dog. She is less than 20 pounds. I’m not judging you or anyone else who might find this option to be a good solution for their circumstances, just saying I would not want it for mine.

      3. Yes, thank you. This would not work with the type of fencing we have. If we win the lottery someday and can put in the type of fencing this can work with, I would definitely consider it. IDK if we’ve just been lucky up until now but in all these years, we’ve never had a jumper before. I’m hoping we never will again! But in the meantime, tying her responsibly for short periods when we are home is working for us.

  3. I’m glad to see research going on before a law is passed. California has an anti-tethering law that is impossible to enforce and therefore largely ignored.

  4. I second the concept that tethering can be done in a responsible manner and that laws should reflect that. My family got a dog when I was in high school, but my parents were unwilling to fence in our yard. Our compromise was an invisible fence, plenty of walks, and supervision. I’m neither advocating for or against invisible fences, btw. Another of those things that can be used in a responsible manner by responsible people.

    Fast forward, that dog is now 11. I’ve moved out. The invisible fence has broken down in multiple places and the dog has learned this. She’ll run off if she gets the chance. But she equally loves to just lie out in the sun for hours at a time. Solution- 50 by 30 foot cable run. We never tie her out if we’re not home, and we check on her regularly to see if she wants to come back inside– usually, the answer is no. She’s just an old dog enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

    If I still lived at home, the situation for her would be different. But, for the dog’s personality and my parent’s lifestyle I feel this is a feasible compromise.

  5. I’ll be eager to see what you come up with.

    It seems impossible to marry more restrictions without it costing low-income people money they can’t afford and increasing impounds. The only other possibility would put a lot of burden on the not-for-profit community it terms of supplying kennels/fencing (which, if those resources existed, most of the animals would already be off chains).

    After playing with a lot of scenarios, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want any restriction at all, you’ll have to accept some level of impact on low income persons and an impact on intake at the shelter. It just becomes a decision of how far are do you take it…and I’m not sure there is a “right” answer.

  6. Thanks for posting this , Shirley. And thank goodness there are animal control agencies willing to put in some research before offering up a knee jerk ordinance.

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