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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 18, 2017 04:45 PM
From: Representative Ed Neilson
To: All House members
Subject: Dog Tethering (Animal Cruelty)
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to place certain restrictions and safety precautions on the tethering of dogs to help reduce animal cruelty in the Commonwealth.

Specifically, this legislation makes it a summary offense to tether a dog outside and unattended to any stationary object between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Upon conviction, the owner will also be subject to forfeiture of the dog.

As dogs are naturally social and thrive on interaction with people and other animals, tethering for an extended amount of time can cause immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive. 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. While tethered, dogs are at high risk of entanglement, strangulation, and harassment or attacks by other dogs or people.

For these reasons, my bill requires a dog to have on a well-fitted collar or harness while tethered and must be placed so that it can roam the full range of the tether and cannot become entangled with other objects. A choke, pinch, prong or other chain cannot be used to tether a dog and the tether must not be less than six feet long or at least five times the dog’s length. This legislation also bans tethering during severe weather conditions and requires the dog to have unfettered access to shelter, food and water.

Exceptions to this legislation include tethering:
  • While training for hunting or farming activities;
  • While shepherding or herding livestock;
  • While pursuing activities at a recreational facility;
  • While attending an organized dog event, or if the dog is raised and trained for sled dog racing; and
  • During the normally restricted time frame for a period not to exceed 15 minutes.

Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have placed restrictions on tethering or banned continuous tethering outright. I ask that you please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation to help prevent this form of animal abuse in Pennsylvania.

Introduced as HB323