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Delaware Legislature Praised for Passing Bill to Limit Dog Tethering

Gov. Jack Markell urged to sign S.B. 211 into law

Delaware Votes For Animals

The Humane Society of the United States and Delaware Votes For Animals commended the Delaware legislature for passing S.B. 211, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, to protect dogs. The bill prohibits the continuous tethering of dogs for more than 18 hours in a 24-hour period and the tethering of animals younger than 4 months old or nursing mothers while their puppies are present. In practice, chaining threatens a dog's health and well-being, as well as the safety other animals and humans. The bill now heads to Gov. Jack Markell for his signature.

“Dogs have an inborn need to interact with people or other animals, so keeping a dog constantly tethered and apart from others is cruel,” said Sen. Blevins. “Most people think of tethering as a way to let a dog out in the yard for a few hours a day, or for a short period of time to relieve themselves. People are surprised to learn that many dogs are kept tethered 24 hours a day, every day of their lives.”

“Our society is defined by how we treat the less fortunate, those without a voice. That includes our pets and other animals,” said Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, the lead House sponsor of the bill. “This new law puts a fair system in place that is complaint-driven and will protect dogs from being tethered for 18 hours or longer.  If you don’t think that’s a big deal, try walking around in a 20-foot circle from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.”

“Dogs are social animals, so when they are left tied-up outside for long periods of time, they become lonely, bored, and anxious, and they can develop aggressive behaviors,” said Hetti Brown, Delaware state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States thanks Senator Blevins and Representatives Jaques and Melanie Smith for their leadership on this important issue. We urge Governor Markell to sign this bill into law to help protect Delaware’s dogs.”

“We’re grateful to the many dedicated citizens and legislators across the state who supported S.B. 211,” said Patricia Haddock, president of Delaware Votes For Animals. “Now no dog in Delaware will have to live his or her life at the end of a chain.”

A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, can exhibit behaviors that put humans and other animals danger.

In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars and the dogs' constant yanking and straining to escape confinement. Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks, the result of years of neglect at the end of a chain.

More than 100 communities in more than 30 states have passed laws that regulate the practice of tethering animals. Maumelle, Ark., and Tucson, Ariz., completely prohibit the unattended tethering of dogs. Many other communities only allow tethering for limited periods of time or during certain conditions. States such as Connecticut, Virginia and West Virginia also have laws limiting tethering.

Facts on S.B. 211:

  • The bill does not consider walking a dog on a leash as tethering, regardless of the dog’s age.
  • For a first offense misdemeanor violation, a warning shall be issued.
  • The tethering statutes do not apply to dogs on land owned or leased by the dog’s owner that is 10 or more acres.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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