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Dogs Tied Up For More Than an Hour May Become a County Offense

by Karen Goff — October 1, 2015 at 4:20 pm 8 Comments

Chained dog/Credit: Pavel Starikov via flickrHow long is too long to leave a dog tied up in the yard?

That is what the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors wants to know in preparation for voting on a proposed amendment to the Fairfax County Code.

The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, Oct. 20, to consider a proposal prohibit tethering of dogs outdoors for more than one hour cumulatively during any 24-hour period.

The amendment, if approved, will also incorporate into county code the Code of Virginia’s cruelty to animals provisions, which address the definitions and penalties for neglect, cruelty and abandonment of companion animals, the county said.

County officials said in a release the dog-tethering proposal is modeled after the City of Richmond’s tethering ordinance, determined to be the best fit based on a survey of jurisdictions across Virginia.

Richmond’s rules are endorsed as model legislation by the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and the Animal Law Unit of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. Several Virginia cities and counties have enacted tethering legislation, including cities of Fairfax and Alexandria and Arlington and Fauquier counties.

The Humane Society of the United States says continuous tethering is bad for dogs.

“As pack animals, dogs have been bred for thousands of years to form a strong attachment to a human family,” the Humane Society says on its website. “An otherwise friendly and happy dog, when kept continually chained and isolated, often becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and aggressive. In fact, studies show that chained dogs are much more likely to bite than unchained dogs.

Chained dogs also may unintentionally hang themselves if they are tethered too close to a fence and attempt to jump it, the Humane Society says.

Here is what the new Fairfax County code would say:

Fines and penalties for violating the tethering provision:

  • First violation — Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by fine of up to $500.
  • Second violation (whether or not involving the same dog) within one year of first violation — Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by fine of up to $1,000 and penalty of up to six months in jail.
  • All subsequent violations within one year of first violation — Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by fine of up to $2,500 and penalty of up to one year in jail.

Want to speak at the hearing? Follow this link to the Fairfax County website. See a list of various dog tethering laws nationwide on the Animal Legal and Historical Society’s website.

Photo Credit: Pavel Starikov via flickr

  • Mike M

    Hey! I get it. I believe everyone should hold their dog in their arms and feed it a warm bottle of milk every night before bed. If they don’t the County should confiscate their property and sell it at auction. Dogs are people too.

  • susie

    Glad to hear this – cruel

  • Ming the Merciless

    Why would I chain my dog? If I did, he’d poop in my yard. He is trained to go and poop in other people’s yards.

    • Mike M

      Mine is trained to go on RA or W&OD property. He is a Labrador and you can train them to do anything.

  • Doglover

    We used to rope/chain our dog and he would go under a tree where he had food and water we set out for him. I’d hate to think that it we left him out there for an hour and five minutes that we’d be criminals. I get the point, but the law seems a little overboard.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    To heck with the dogs, how long can we tether our children outside before it’s a criminal offense?

  • Mookie Taylor

    There’s a pretty big leap between “continually chained and isolated” and keeping the dog out for more than an hour. Some dogs might perfer being outside on a leash than being kept inside. It’s more understandable if the dog is left alone outside all day or night, but if the owner is home and occasionally checking on the dog, it is a bit absurd.

  • Margery Glickman
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