Reston, VA

Chained dog/Credit: Pavel Starikov via flickrThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has postponed indefinitely a proposal to prohibit tethering dogs outside for more than one hour.

The supervisors were slated to hold a public hearing and vote on a new county code for dog tethering at their Oct. 20 meeting.

The change to the Code of Virginia’s cruelty to animals provisions, which address the definitions and penalties for neglect, cruelty and abandonment of pets, would make it illegal to tie a dog up outside for more than an hour in a 24-hour period.

County officials previously said 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.

Photo Credit: Pavel Starikov via flickr

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