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U.S. Anti-Tethering Legislation By State

The State of Pennsylvania is Currently Lobbying for
Laws Against Tethering Dogs for Life:

Pennsylvania Residents:

Contact: DDB Rep Kathleen with questions at:

PA Bill to Limit Nighttime Chaining
Posted Apr 26, 2011 by lauraallen

A bill pending in the Pennsylvania legislature would prohibit tethering of dogs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

H.B. 826/S.B. 972 introduced by Rep. Mario M. Scavello in the House of Representatives and Sen. Richard L. Alloway in the state Senate, would also require people keeping dogs to

place or attach the tether so that the dog cannot become entangled with other objects; allow the dog to

roam the full range of the tether. The tether must be of a type commonly used for the size of dog involved. No tow chain may be used;

attach the tether to the dog by means of a well-fitted collar or body harness that will not cause trauma or injury to the dog. No choke, pinch, prong or other chain collar may be used;

use a tether that is a minimum of six feet long or at least five times the length of the dog as measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail, whichever is longer, and must allow the dog convenient and unfettered access to shelter and food and water containers. The tether may not become wrapped around an appendage such that it restricts the dog's movement;

provide the dog with protection from the direct rays of the sun, and at least one area of shade other than the shelter must be provided;

make sure the tethered dog has no open sores or wounds;

not tether the dog outside during periods of extreme weather such as periods of unusually cold or hot temperatures, or when a weather advisory or warning has been issued. (It is not clear what is meant by "unusually cold or hot temperatures" or how that would be determined.)

There would be exceptions from these requirements:

(1) tethering a dog for a period not to exceed 15 minutes as long as the dog is not in danger or a nuisance or does not put the public in danger;

(2) Tethering a dog while actively engaged in or actively training for an activity that is conducted pursuant to a valid license like hunting;

(3) Tethering a dog that is "used in the course of commercial agricultural production or is used for the protection of commercial farm property, agricultural supplies or products";

(4) Tethering a dog "while actively participating in or attending an organized dog show, field trial, agility event, herding contest or other similar exposition or event, of a limited duration, that involves the judging or evaluation of dogs";

(5) Tethering a dog "being raised, trained or utilized for sled racing so long as the dog is regularly untethered for exercise and training"; or

(6) Tethering a dog pursuant to the requirements of a camping or recreational area.

A person found in violation could be required to forfeit the dog. The bill also requires all people keeping dogs to provide "potable" water.


H.B. 826 is pending in the Judiciary Committee. Find members here. (Click on their names for contact info.)

The Senate version, S.B. 972, is pending the senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Find committee members here. (Just click on their names for contact info.)

Find your Pennsylvania state legislators here.

Write (faxes or letters are best) committee members and your PA state legislators and urge them to vote YES to H.B. 826/S.B. 972.

Read more about why dogs should not be chained and what other states are doing to stop this cruel practice.

UPDATE 2/28/2011 House Bill 826 was introduced in the PA House of Representatives by Rep. Mario Scavello (R-176). The bill was referred to the House Judiciary committee. Please go to the "Take Action" page for further details.

To read the full text of the House Bill 826, please click here.

Unfortunately, both House Bill 1254 and Senate Bill 1435 died in committee during the last PA legislative session (2009-2010).

House Bill 1254: This bill marked the third time anti-tethering legislation had been introduced in the PA House. The circumstances surrounding HB1254 were particularly disappointing. Most notably, in early 2010 a national humane group stepped in and proposed a re-write of the bill in conjunction with several of the House Judiciary Committee members. The proposed language (at least the last version we saw) was unenforceable and therefore compromised the spirit of the bill which was to protect dogs from the abuse and neglect associated with continual tethering. For reasons unknown to us, the revised bill was never introduced but certainly muddied the waters for further progression of HB1254. The bill died in the House Judiciary Committee. There were 56 co-sponsors.

Senate Bill 1435: This bill marks the first time that anti-tethering legislation was introduced in the PA Senate, however the bill died in the Senate's Agricultural & Rural Affairs Committee. There were 14 co-sponsors. While we were grateful that SB1435 consisted of the same (original) language as HB1254, we questioned why this bill was referred to the PA Senate Agricultural & Rural Affairs Committee. Anti-tethering bills only amend Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) as it relates to animal cruelty, not Title 3 (Agriculture) bills.

We anticipate the introduction of a new bill in the 2011-2012 PA legislative session and will provide an update as soon as further information is available.

UPDATE 4/9/10 A new anti-tethering bill is expected to be introduced in the state House during the week of April 12. The House and Senate are currently recessed for the Easter and Passover holidays. The House returns on April 12 and the Senate on April 19. Meanwhile, work continues on the anti-tethering bill. We will share the bill with you as soon as it is released. (read more)

UPDATE 1/8/10 Pennsylvania bill, H.B.1254 remains stuck in the state legislature.

Posted on 1/7/10
Pennsylvania Dogs Freeze in Below Zero wind chills
as they await a Pennsylvania law against tethering

Dogs Deserve Better Urges All Organizations, Individuals, and Business Owners
to Join Coalition to Pass HB1254 in Pennsylvania.

PA's Wall of Shame

UPDATE 9/23/2009
Virtual Wall of Shame Features Chained Dogs in PA Counties. Send your photos to

Pennsylvania Resident? Please sign up here for our e-mail list to receive updates on the bill. It is crucial for our grassroots efforts that everyone in Pennsylvania get involved, and we will send out weekly or bi-weekly updates, keeping you advised and keeping you involved.

Join Our PA1254 Email List
For Email Newsletters you can trust


View the making of the REAL Wall of Shame, which debuted at Awareness Day and Woofstock to crowds of up to 5,000 people!

UPDATE 9/18/2009
Click here for full bill language.

UPDATE 08/11/2009

Because of the overwhelming public support for HB1254, we have set up a separate website with additional detail. Please go to for up to the minute information on the status of this bills and what you can do to help.

UPDATE 05/10/2009

Chain, cowed dog illustrated story of abuse
Pocono Record - Stroudsburg, PA, USA
Animal advocates equate outright abuse and benign neglect. They are not the same but neither is acceptable. HB 1254 calls for tethers that do not tangle ...

UPDATE 04/22/2009

Rep.Mario Scavello has introduced an anti-tethering bill, H.B. 1254.

The bill has been introduced in previous sessions.

This bill would make it a summary offense to tether or chain a dog outside unattended to a stationary object between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The tether must be at least 6 feet long or 5 times the length of the dog, whichever is longer. No prong, pinch, chain or choke collars can be used. The tether must be dog must be attached or placed so the dog does not become tangled. The tether must be of a ( type commonly used. No tow chains would be allowed.

The dog must be kept free of sores and wounds. The dog must have shade in addition to the shelter provided. A dog may not be tethered outside during periods of extreme weather such as periods of unusually cold or hot temperatures, or when a weather advisory or warning has been issued.

There are exceptions for sled dogs, dogs used in the course of agricultural production or for protection of farm property or supplies, and products;  tethering for a temporary, 15 minute activity; camping or recreational activities, training for an activity that is conducted pursuant to a valid license, and dog shows, field trial, agility events, herding contests or other similar expositions or events.


This bill, H.B. 1254, is now in the House Judiciary Committee:

1. Contact members:
Hand write or call and urge them to vote YES on H.B. 1254.

Find Representatives:
Including your own if you live in Pennsylvania. Write or call and urge them to support this bill. 

2. Donate to Dogs Deserve Better

For over 7 years, Dogs Deserve Better has been tirelessly working to protect the rights of canine companions across Pennsylvania. With your help, we will continue to champion the cause against canine tethering and confinement through leadership, education and advocacy. and help to inspire the next generation of activists who will continue the fight against animal cruelty.

Your contribution gives us the ability to monitor and quickly respond to actions that impede or erode our laws and regulations for just and equitable treatment of canine companions. Your support helps us analyze and share information that energizes citizen participation and strengthens society’s resolve.

Join Dogs Deserve Better as we work to ensure that Pennsylvania enacts reasonable and responsible anti-tethering legislation.

Your support makes our work possible. We thank you for your commitment.

Dogs Deserve Better is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Financial contributions to DDB are tax-deductible. Checks may be sent to P.O. Box 23, Tipton PA 16684.

UPDATE 04/13/2009

New dog tethering legislation has been introduced. Please contact your State Representative and ask him/her to support HB 1254. This very important legislation will help relieve the tremendous suffering chained dogs endure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is crucial that animal advocates contact their Pennsylvania State Representative – the chained dog needs your help to break the chain of animal cruelty.

If you do not know who your State Representative is, use this link: In the upper right hand corner of the page is a box that says “Find Members By” type your zip code and the four digit extension assigned by the post office. (If you are not sure of your four digit extension, look on any utility bill). Click “Go” and the website will instruct you who your State Representative is.

If you have any questions regarding HB 1254 please visit the site dedicated to passing this law,

Below are talking points about chained dogs that may help you when you are contacting your Pennsylvania State Representative:

Local SPCA’s and humane societies receive hundreds of calls every year from people concerned about chained and neglected dogs. It is the number one call humane societies receive. However because dog tethering is legal, there is little animal welfare agencies can do to help the dog.

Tethering/Chaining is inhumane and unsafe for dogs

Dogs are by nature, social beings who thrive on interaction with people and other animals. A dog kept chained in one spot for months or even years suffers immense psychological damage. A continuously chained dog usually becomes neurotic, anxious, and aggressive.

Tethered dogs rarely receive sufficient care. They suffer from sporadic feedings, overturned water bowls, inadequate veterinary care, lack of exercise, and extreme temperatures. They have to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in a single confined area. Chained dogs are rarely given even minimal attention and are easily ignored by their owners.

In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and infected from too-tight collars. Dog tethers can also easily become entangled with other objects, choking or strangling the dogs to death.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1996 stated “Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog’s movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog’s shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog’s movement and potentially causing injury.” In 1997, the USDA ruled that people and organizations regulated by the Animal Welfare Act cannot keep dogs continuously chained.

Dog Tethering is a safety hazard for people

Dogs naturally feel protective of their territory. When confronted with a perceived threat, they respond with a fight or flight instinct. A chained dog unable to take flight, feels forced to fight. A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite. The dogs most likely to bite are male, unneutered and chained.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has also stated “Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior.”

In 2007 alone, there were 73 cases of children who were killed or seriously injured by chained dogs.

Alternatives to tethering

Preferably, dogs should be kept indoors at night. If a dog must be housed outside at certain times, the dog should be placed in a suitable pen with adequate square footage and shelter from the elements. Other options include, keeping a dog inside a fenced yard or an invisibly fenced yard. There are also many resources available to help people train their dogs so their behavior is suitable for indoor living.

It is an owner’s responsibility to properly restrain their dog, just as it is the owner’s responsibility to provide adequate attention and socialization. Placing an animal on a restraint to get fresh air can be acceptable if it is done for a short period. However, keeping an animal tethered for long periods is never acceptable.


The cruelty section of the criminal code is enforced by humane officers and police officers. Police officers often refer calls regarding animal cruelty situations to the local humane officer. Humane officers are employed by non-profit organizations who rely on donations to pay their staff. Given that more than 50% of the calls they receive pertain to chained dogs, HB 1254 will provide humane officers with another tool in their fight against animal cruelty. Furthermore, the passage of HB 1254 will help eliminate this inherently abusive practice and eventually there will be fewer calls.

HB 1254 would also greatly reduce nighttime nuisance barking dogs calls that police are summoned to answer.

The practice of continuous tethering creates public policy issues as well as an inhumane environment for the dog. Reasonable anti-tethering laws make life more difficult for dog fighters, animal abusers, and neglectful owners. HB 1254 is a reasonable, responsible solution to a cruel and inhumane situation.

UPDATE 04/2008 This Bill Failed

After successfully passing through the PA Judiciary Committee by a vote of 24 to 4 on September 25, 2007, HB-1065 made its way to the Appropriations Committee (it's final committee stop before heading to the General Assembly for a vote) and there it has sat SINCE OCTOBER 15, 2007.

UPDATE 03/16/2009

Pennsylvania dog advocates are on our 3rd year fighting for a law limiting chaining in Pennsylvania. Rep. Scavello has sent out the memo asking for co-sponsors of the new tethering bill, so far there are 30 sponsors, up from last year. We will let you know ASAP when the bill is introduced and a number is assigned.

PA Wall of Shame Bricks

This year, as part of a much larger push to get this bill through to a law, we have created a Pennsylvania Wall of Shame: Chained Dogs Still Waiting for a Law. This Wall features photos of chained dogs in every county who are still out there living chained today, still waiting for help, and still waiting for YOU. If you can get us photos of chained dogs in your Pennsylvania county, please e-mail them to us at with the county location. Ask your local Rep to get behind this bill. Download the Media Release.

UPDATE 03/112008

Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network (PLAN) held an HB1065 anti-tethering bill press conference today at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg. It went really well, we had approximately 100 supporters come out (thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy lives to stand for the chained dogs!) The event was planned by Mary Jo McClain (pictured below right, next to Rep. Mario Scavello and Grimes), a PLAN lobbyist who has done much to move the bill along, and she has our continued gratitude for her hard work.


Speakers included:

Representative Mario Scavello, (R-Monroe), HB 1065 Sponsor
Howard Nelson
, CEO of Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA)
Tammy Grimes, Founder, Dogs Deserve Better
Adam Goldfarb, Issues Specialist The Humane Society of the United States
Amy Kaunas, Executive Director, Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area