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California Anti-Tethering Law

The new law will limit the circumstances under which Californians can tether or chain dogs. With few exceptions, "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."

Under the law a person may be issued a warning or charged with an infraction or misdemeanor. An infraction is punishable by a $250 fine. A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $1000 or 6 months in jail or both.

The law signals a recognition by Californians and others around the country that tethering or chaining dogs is cruel and inhumane and fosters aggression.

Here are some facts about chaining dogs:

Chained dogs can become aggressive due to intense confinement and lack of socialization. They also feel trapped, unable to escape from noises or people or animals that frighten them.

Between February 2000 and January 2006 at least 107 people were attacked or killed by chained dogs in the United States. About two thirds of those incidents (75) involved children.

Chained dogs typically lack adequate veterinary care, food, water, or shelter. They are rarely exercised or interact with their families. These dogs suffer from neglect. Even if they are not left without adequate care, they lead an unhappy, frustrating existence for such social animals. Dogs on chains suffer intense boredom, anxiety, even neuroses; their lives are very sad and lonely.

Dogs can choke to death when their chains became entangled with other objects, or develop infections and severe wounds when collars become embedded in their necks.

Also, a CDC study found chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite. And, “[t]he dogs most likely to bite are male, unneutered, and chained.” The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has also declared, "Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior." Chained or tethered dogs present a danger to the community.

Another policy consideration is the inordinate amount of time and other resources animal control must devote to answering calls about cruelly chained dogs and trying to educate pet owners about the harm that comes from this practice. If chaining and tethering is illegal, those animal control resources can be spent elsewhere.

A ban on chaining and tethering can aid in enforcement of dog fighting laws. Law enforcement can use the ban to stop dog fighting because many of these dogs are kept on chains.