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June 6, 2013

Dog Tethering Law Passes Oregon Legislature

Coalition of supporters urges Gov. Kitzhaber to sign H.B. 2783B into law

A coalition of animal welfare organizations, veterinarians and law enforcement agencies commended the Oregon legislature for restricting the chaining and tethering of dogs throughout the state. Both chambers of the Oregon legislature approved the measure by commanding margins, with the state House voting to concur with Senate amendments by a vote of 45-14 today. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, received bipartisan support and will now go to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s desk. If signed into law, the measure will take effect in January 2014.

The coalition, which includes The Humane Society of the United States, Fences for Fido, Oregon Humane Society, Oregon Animal Control Council, Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, Banfield Pet Hospitals, Washington County Animal Services, Multnomah County Animal Services and the City of Albany Police Department, lobbied for the legislation to address the problems associated with chronically-chained dogs. Chained dogs are often associated with complaints of excessive barking, aggression, biting, running at large and long-term neglect. 

H.B. 2783B classifies unlawful tethering as a Class B violation and sets limits on the amount of time a dog can be tethered to a stationary object or running line. Tethering that results in physical injury to a dog would be a Class B misdemeanor, and tethering that results in serious physical injury or death would be a Class A misdemeanor. The bill included carefully-drafted exemptions that would exclude dogs being used for hunting, dogsledding and protecting livestock. Also included in its provisions are clarifications on minimum standards for shelter and bedding.

Kelly Peterson, president of Fences For Fido and vice president of state affairs for The HSUS, said: “Fences provide immediate relief for one chained dog at a time, while a law would help solve the problem of chaining for all of Oregon’s dogs. The view from the field—in backyards and communities throughout Oregon—is that H.B. 2783BA is a modest, sensible approach.”

Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society, said: “Man’s best friend deserves better than to live on the end of a chain. Chronically-chained dogs are much more likely to be lonely, unsocialized, and therefore cause the overwhelming majority of dog-related problems in communities across our state.  H.B. 2783B will result in more responsible pet owners, happier dogs and safer neighborhoods.”

Glenn Kolb, executive director of The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, said: “H.B. 2783B is a practical and reasonable solution to dogs confined to the end of a rope or chain all day long. The modest changes to our current animal care standards were the right thing to do for man’s – and woman’s – best friend.”

Marta Monetti, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Banfield Pet Hospital, said: “Our goal every day is to improve the quality of life and the health of pets in Oregon. This practical legislation supports responsible pet ownership, and Banfield Pet Hospital is proud to be part of a great group of stakeholders from the animal welfare, law enforcement and veterinary community that advocated for its passage. We applaud the legislature for taking this step.”

Brenda Bower, president of Oregon Animal Control Council, said: “Animal control officers in particular need to have additional means of counseling dog owners, and levy appropriate sanctions when necessary. The Oregon Animal Control Council stands in strong support of H.B. 2783B, and we thank the Oregon Legislature for passing a law that gives us the ability to do an even better job of promoting animal welfare and public safety.”

Jim Dohr of the City of Albany Police Department, said: “Animal control and law enforcement officers spend too much of their time dealing with the problem of chained dogs. This new measure will provide officers with a valuable tool to help families become better, more responsible pet owners.  This is a benefit for both animal welfare and public safety resources. We believe this bill is carefully worded to be effective, enforceable, and avoid any unintended consequences.”

Mike Oswald, director of Multnomah County Animal Services, said: “This bill helps us with one of our essential roles at Multnomah County Animal Services -- keeping animals in our community safe from harm. We are proud to have worked with all our community partners to pass such an important measure for animals’ well-being.”

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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