House Bill 551 seeks to establish requirements and restrictions for tethering a dog. As introduced, HB 551 includes certain problematic provisions. The bill’s sponsor has indicated willingness to amend the bill to address concerns while maintaining sections that provide protections for dogs.
HB 551 is on the agenda of the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry for Thursday, April 15, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. Responsible dog owners are encouraged to immediately contact committee members and politely urge them to not advance HB 551, as introduced, so that problematic sections can be amended.
Voice mail and email messages can be left for committee members on Wednesday evening with “Please oppose HB 551, as introduced” in the subject line. Scroll down for contact information.
Concerns with HB 551 include, but are not limited to:
- Certain requirements under HB 551 would increase, rather than minimize, health and safety risks for a dog. For example, the bill would require that a tethered dog be provided continuous access to food. Leaving food available at all times is not recommended for overweight dogs or dogs on certain diets, and unconsumed or spilled food can attract insects and vermin. Failure to provide food to a dog, whether tethered or otherwise, is already a crime in Alabama under existing animal cruelty laws.
- As introduced, the bill potentially restricts the use of grooming nooses and certain veterinary tethers that are used to safely restrain and stabilize a dog.
- Limited exemptions are provided for hunting dogs, but no exemptions are provided for working dogs, farm and livestock dogs, military and police dogs, tracking and search-and-rescue dogs, dogs participating in recognized competitions, service dogs, and dogs in training for these purposes. Dogs may need to be safely tethered in conjunction with working, competition, hunting, and training activities.
- Restrictions on tethering dogs during weather advisories fail to recognize that such advisories may cover vast geographic areas and the forecasted conditions may never manifest in the location where a dog is tethered. Further, even if certain weather conditions occur, the bill does not consider that an owner may provide appropriate access to shade and protective shelter to a tethered dog.
- Time of day limitations on tethering a dog would discriminate against third shift workers, such as law enforcement personnel, medical professionals, hospitality workers, and other individuals who may need to safely tether a dog while at work or otherwise while away from home during hours that the bill seeks to restrict.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) 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 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.
What you can do: Respectfully contact committee members and urge them to not advance HB 551, as introduced, so that the bill can be amended to address these and other concerns.
Rep. Danny Crawford, firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0516
Rep. Steve Hurst, email@example.com, (334) 261-0415
Rep. Thomas Jackson, Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0437
Rep. Bob Fincher, email@example.com, (334) 261-0538
Rep. Ed Oliver, firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0471
Rep. A.J. McCampbell, email@example.com, (334) 261-0547
Rep. Dexter Grimsley, firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0513
Rep. Ginny Shaver, email@example.com, (334) 261-0413
Rep. Will Dismukes, firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0499
Rep. Tommy Hanes, email@example.com, (334) 261-0551
Rep. Joe Faust, firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0409
Rep. Rodney Sullivan, email@example.com, (334) 261-0403
Rep. Reed Ingram, firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0507
Rep. Jeff Sorrells, email@example.com, (334) 261-0542
Rep. Ralph Howard, firstname.lastname@example.org, (334) 261-0559
For additional information, please contact AKC Government Relations at email@example.com or 919-816-3645.