Anti-Tethering Laws: Cruel or Humane?
By: Diane Jessup
One thing most experienced and reputable dog people agree upon is this: a dog is not safe left at large unattended, even in a fenced yard. No matter how secure the fence, when an owner is not home it is possible that a dog can dig out or climb over. A sudden storm can blow down a section or even one board, facilitating an escape. In some parts of the country earthquakes can damage a fence, as can sudden strong winds. “Freak” accidents are not really so “freak”; the author had a visitor’s brakes go out and they arrived with a bang—right through the front gate! Luckily I was home.
Another very serious threat to dogs—particularly pit bulls—is being killed by frightened police officers who enter the yard in pursuit of “bad guys”. Even friendly dogs are killed with alarming regularity by trespassing police.
When an owner is not home and the dog is either too young (not housebroken), too old (incontinent), or simply too active to be left alone in the house, the animal is best secured within a yard by being tethered or by being kenneled.
In order to be secure, a kennel has to be under wired or have some kind of solid bottom as well as a solid, tip-in or hotwired top. The space needs to be large enough to allow the animal to get away from its feces and to provide shade in hot weather. Such a kennel represents a substantial outlay of money. If a dog is going to be spending several hours a day in the kennel, the size should be no smaller than six feet by twelve feet.
Another satisfactory way of confining a dog while owners are not at home is to tether the dog. Tethering is less expensive then kenneling, but requires a bit of though in order to set up a safe, humane situation. Contrary to popular misconception, tethering can be the safest method of controlling a hard to contain animal.
All dog breeds contain those canine “Houdinis” that can escape from anything. They can chew through 9 gauge chain link, they can push up heavy kennel lids—they can break out windows and even open doors. They destroy wire and plastic shipping crates in seconds. These dogs can only be contained securely (and humanely) with a well thought out tether system.
California has introduced an anti-tethering bill which will effectively deny dog owners the right to securely confine their dogs in their own yards. This ordinance exposes not only the dog, but the dog’s owner to risks. Prohibiting dog owners from securely tethering their dog in their own yard will result in increased escapes by dogs, as well as an increase in the cruel practice of making shipping crates a dog’s “primary enclosure” for hours each day while owners are at work.
[Pet Defense Note: The tethering Bill passed and is limited to 3hr of continuous time in 24hr period, on specified type of restraint in general; see actual code for updated law.]
Wording from the bill states: This bill, with specified exceptions, would prohibit a person from tethering, fastening, chaining, tying, or restraining a dog to a dog house, tree, fence, or other stationary object. By making a violation of its provisions a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
SECTION 1. Chapter 13.2 (commencing with Section 25975) is added to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, to read:So, according to this bill, if you tethered your dog outside to let it enjoy the warm spring sunshine (with shade available, of course) for four hours (say, while you are flea bombing the house) you face conviction for animal cruelty as a misdemeanor, and up to a $1000 fine and six months in jail.
CHAPTER 13.2. DOG TETHERING 25975.
(b) No person shall tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog, or cause a dog to be tethered, fastened, chained, tied, or restrained, to a dog house, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), a person may do any of the following:
(1) Attach a dog to a running line, pulley, or trolley system approved by animal control. A dog shall not be tethered to the running line, pulley, or trolley system by means of a choke collar or pinch collar.
(d) A person who violates this chapter is guilty of an infraction or a misdemeanor, at the discretion of the prosecutor.
(1) An infraction under this chapter is punishable upon conviction by a fine of up to two hundred fifty dollars ($250) as to each dog with respect to which a violation occurs.
(2) A misdemeanor under this chapter is punishable upon conviction by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) as to each dog with respect to which a violation occurs, and imprisonment in a county jail for not more than six months.
The California bill does not prohibit runners, which interesting, as runners are problematic at best. Runners can provide a satisfactory tethering situation, but because of their complexity, provide many more opportunities for breakage, snags and tangles.
The California bill is poorly written and far too inclusive. And it is not unique. Fifty four United States communities prohibit or restrict tethering dogs. However, there are a few jurisdictions which have addressed the cruelties of inappropriate tethering without negatively impacting responsible and humane owners. These laws are outstanding examples of cutting to the heart of the problem which is neglectful ownership practices, not tethering.Sec. 4-17. Cruelty to animals and fowl.
One example is Raytown, Missouri, which passed a 1997 law which offers wide protection to all kinds of animals and fowl:
a tieout, consisting of a chain, leash, wire cable or similar restraint attached to a swivel or pulley. A tieout shall be so located as to keep the animal exclusively on the secured premises. Tieouts shall be so located that they cannot become entangled with other objects. Collars used to attach an animal to a tieout shall not be of a choke type. No tieout shall employ a restraint which is less than ten (10) feet in length.Yet the Tucson law goes on to prohibit all tethering! The above description describes tethering that can only be used for 30 days after a person is “busted” for tethering—even appropriately. After 30 days, the dog must be kenneled, crated or allowed to run loose.
In Dekalb County, Georgia, whom ever wrote up their anti-tethering ordinance obviously has very little experience with securing dogs safely. The ordinance requires that a tether be a trolley system required to be:
The running cable line or trolley system must be at least ten (10) feet in length and mounted at least four (4) feet and no more than seven (7) feet above ground level; (9) Be attached to a properly fitted harness or collar not used for the display of a current rabies tag and other identification; and with enough room between the collar and the dog’s throat through which two (2) fingers may fit. Choke collars and pinch collars are prohibited for the purpose of tethering an animal to a running cable line or trolley system; Those familiar with trolley systems know that a four foot high line invites all kinds of tangles and problems, the most common being the dog getting the line under its elbows and causing rub wounds. As well, tying out a dog on a harness will result in a loose dog very quickly. Dogs can simply reach down and chew the harness on the chest area to get out; others can easily back out. A harness is the least secure way to keep a dog on a tether.
As well, to specify that “two fingers” can be slipped under the collar is senseless. Two fingers on edge, or two fingers lying flat? A tiny Asian woman’s fingers or a large, overweight man’s? For a government agency to insist they know how tight a specific dog’s collar must be to confine it securely is dangerously negligent. Who is liable if an aggressive dog slips a too loose collar and escapes to do harm? The owner who was not allowed to use a proper fitting collar—or the government which insisted on an archaic method of measurement?
Currently we see the trend toward turning small dogs into purse accessories and large breeds into inane, bandana-wearing, dog-park visiting urban caricatures of “real” dogs. This modern “urban chic” trend desires Old Yeller to spend his days in a shipping crate (accessorized to fit the living room furnishings) in a high-rise or lying about on a couch in a Brownstone, waiting for his “guardians” to arrive home from work and the club. Country ramblings have been replaced by hurried morning and evening walks (in a coat, of course) sniffing exhaust and oil and the pee markings of other leashed canines.
Crating versus tethering
What’s interesting about this almost unanimous support by “humane” personnel for shipping crates as “primary enclosures” is that using the average shipping crate (300, 400 or 500 size) as the average pit bull’s primary enclosure does not even meet the (very) minimal standards set forth for housing of dogs used in medical research facilities.
According to USDA Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, Chapter 1, Subchapter A—Animal Welfare– Part 3, Standards, the amount of space needed for a “primary enclosure” for a canine is calculated thusly: measurement of animal nose to tail, plus 6 inches, X measurement of animal nose to tail, plus 6 inches = the required floor space in square inches. To determine the required floor space in square feet, divide the square inches by 144.
Using this equation, an average sized pit bull (considering they range from 35 pounds to 65 pounds according to the UKC standard) weighing 60 pounds will require 12 square feet of space in its primary living area. The typical “large” or “400” sized crate measures 32” long by 20” wide of usable, inside space. This equates to 4.4 square feet of space—one third the amount mandated for those poor souls in research laboratories. Even the larger “500” or “extra-large” crates fail to meet USDA requirements.
So it is difficult to understand why appropriate tethering deserves so much attention from “humane” organizations, but the practice of “crating” is ignored. In fact, if the California law passes, an owner can be jailed for giving their dog hundreds of square feet of space in an appropriate tethering situation, but can legally “crate” their dog for 23 hours a day.
[This is the substantial section of tethering by Jessup, see her site for more info at workingpitbull.com]
My main reason for showing this section, is to show how ridiculous laws are made by animal rights people (not animal welfare) and how HSUS USES helps make these bad laws to promote THEIR own hidden agenda. It would be crating (dog, cat, animals) that HSUS tries to outlaw next, since they have now passed Proposition 2 which doesn’t allow battery cages for chickens, etc.
Despite HSUS’ “claim” that they wanted chickens to NOT be caged so they could run around, etc, the fact is that non caged chickens are more subject to disease and injury. However, there are six typical methods used to confine chickens without caging, and most of them were used in the 1950’s and even in 1920’s. Of course these methods require more time and likely expense, as the methods require intervention for eggs that end up being laid on the ground plus more.Battery cages [outlawed by HSUS law, with the public voting it in] automatically allowed eggs to roll onto an area to remove it from being smashed, eaten, or contaminated. Such eggs would never touch the ground.
So by those trying to “help” chickens, they have chosen systems that don’t even protect the consumer. Yet HSUS keeps claiming that “chickens” and “reptiles” are salmonella agents waiting to kill people. Here you can see the obvious reason for getting rid of battery cages. 1–it makes egg producers go to more expense, 2–it makes the production more difficult 3–It is not as safe as battery caging for consumers 4–producers still have same duty to produce safe food product 5–the public is fleeced into thinking they like it anyway, but paying more is ok. Maybe?
If we were to tell automobile companies that they can’t use an assembly line because it causes the workers to get carpal tunnel, and they have to stop using the assembly line, would anyone go for it? Could they force the cars to be done in methods used 70 years ago? Hardly. Animals are one of the very few subjects that will garner emotional sympathy in an extraordinary manner, and HSUS KNOWS it.
One of the first things that HSUS loves to do, is to immediately characterize ALL of one thing as the same. For example, HSUS CLAIMS that ALL commercial kennels look like the pictures HSUS has, that ALL pets sold might be from commercial kennels, that ALL dogs in petstores must be “milled” dogs, that ALL good breeders don’t sell to petstores, that ALL ethical people BUY from shelters (not petstores or breeders), that ALL pitbull dogs can have their DNA 99% accurate because the companies that offer DNA testing say so??????
Any group that uses heavily laden photos, videos, websites and ADS ON TV–usually has a motive behind it–and it’s usually to make more $$$$$$—not necessarily to save any pets in the USA. Advertising, political lobbying, media marketing, campaigning, trying to become “powerhouses” of political influence=HSUS–and that does not come without the PRICETAG.
Therefore, if HSUS wants to go where no other animal rights group has gone, it had damn well better be prepared for us to call a spade a spade, when enough is enough. Pet owners and pet realted business, animal related business–ALL STAND TO SUFFER WHEN HSUS PUTS ANTI-PET LAWS INTO EFFECT.
How the hell can Obama want LESS enterprise, LESS business, LESS commerce???? Obama said, this is the United States. Meaning, this is not a lay down, go down the toilet nation.
When in a depresssion, recession, and the like, one does NOT make excessive, unnecessary, or over the top ridiculous LAWS that further SQUANDER the money we don’t even have, for increasing the bill of running the government!!
HSUS is NOT the government, but HSUS in every respect—is attempting to control and BE the government by setting up Anti-Pet laws across the country, HSUS is creating court costs, loss of court time, loss of wages for parties that MUST sue the city, the county, and any other afflicted agency that HSUS has bamboozled;
HSUS brings about MORE financial problems and related issues, because it consistently and continually puts more and more and more unnecssary, arbitrary and ridiculous LAWS in front of people–
all in the name of “saving” pets—when HSUS saves NO pets,
but makes videos, kills puppies and dogs.
HSUS harasses owners, does raids on kennels,
drafts laws that employ lack of due process,
focuses on surveillance and copies PETA to
get media attention and donation $$$$.
HSUS does not spend $$+ donation $$$ toward the actual
saving of animals or pets, but instead spends the $$$ on
creating animal rights laws which serve to create
their own personal agenda for animals
HSUS implicates innocent people on video,
and a host of other acts that give the clear
implication not only of impropriety, but of downright illegality!