At its April meeting, the AKC Board of Directors approved a new position statement to clarify the organization’s position on tethering. The position statement is as follows:
“The American Kennel Club recognizes that tethering is a practical and humane method for training and restraining dogs in a variety of circumstances. Dogs should never be tethered in a manner that could cause harm to them. Tethering is a common and responsible way to restrain dogs that do not respond well to other restraints (such as escape artists), or participate in activities that require acclimatization such as hunting, sledding and/or other obedience and performance events. Tethering may also be a responsible and appropriate option for handling dogs that are service dogs such as seeing eye dogs, dogs in training, and dogs that are being groomed or examined on a table. AKC opposes arbitrary restrictions on tethering, which can undermine the wellbeing of dogs, responsible dog ownership, and safe training and recreational activities.”
The American Kennel Club has seen a troubling increase in proposed anti-tethering laws in states and local municipalities seeking to prevent animal cruelty. AKC shares concerns about abuse and does not tolerate animal cruelty. However, proposals that arbitrarily ban tethering could actually cause harm to some dogs and are unlikely to stop bad actors already in violation of animal welfare laws.
The AKC supports the use of cruelty and negligence laws to address a broad range of issues of animal mistreatment regardless of the source. In cases where cruelty or neglect occurs where dogs are tethered, cruelty or neglect laws should be used to prosecute the crime. AKC advocates for proper care and humane treatment of dogs that include an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior.
AKC is concerned that arbitrary anti-tethering laws may undermine positive canine activities such as dog training, grooming, field trials, conformation dog shows, use of service dogs and other examinations that are part of responsible dog ownership. To learn more, read “Sassy’s Story”.
There are many instances of tethering that encourage a healthy bond between dog and owner. For example, it is common for owners of sled dogs to use tethers and weatherproof dog houses to ensure the comfort, acclimatization, freedom of movement, companionship and safety of norther breeds that thrive in cold climates. It should also be noted that tethering provides more space than a similarly measured kennel: A 10×10 kennel run gives a dog 100 square feet of space, but a 10-foot tether provides a dog 314 square feet of space. A Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine study on sled dogs concluded that “our findings provide no evidence that tethering was any more or less detrimental to dog welfare than being housed in pens” and urged additional controlled studies.
A better and more effective way to protect dogs from mistreatment is to ensure enforcement of cruelty and negligence laws, regardless of the method of confinement an owner chooses.