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Senate Bill 650 seeks to ban unattended tethering of dogs and cats, with limited exemptions that would apply only during certain weather conditions. SB 650 would also authorize confiscation of an improperly tethered dog. The bill is on the agenda of the Senate Committee on Agriculture tomorrow, March 3, 2021, at 12:00 p.m.

As introduced, SB 650 would ban all tethering, both indoors and outdoors, unless a person is physically present with and attending the dog, and the dog remains visible to the person at all times.

Exemptions to this ban on unattended tethering would be provided for certain public events, farm/agricultural work, law enforcement dogs, during natural and manmade disasters, while the dog is being serviced by a veterinarian or groomer, legal hunting activities, and when tethers are required by regulations of a camping or recreational area. Temporary tethering while in a humane shelter or at a licensed commercial boarding facility would also be exempted.

None of these exemptions would allow outdoor tethering during severe weather. “Severe weather” would include, but not be limited to, undefined extreme heat and cold, thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, tropical storms, or hurricanes.

Under the bill as introduced, under no circumstances could a dog be safely tethered with shade, shelter, and water while the owner was away at work, school, or otherwise not physically present with the dog in sight at all times.

Violators of the proposed tethering law would receive a written warning for a first offense, a fine of $250 for a second offense, and fines of $500 for a third and each subsequent offense. SB 650 also provides that enforcement would be pursuant to Florida Animal Cruelty law 828.073. Under this section of law, among other authorized actions, any law enforcement officer, any certified animal control officer, or any agent of any county or appointed agent of any society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals may take custody of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated by removing the animal from its present location.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) believes that no dog should ever be kept in a situation where its health or safety is at risk. However, AKC also 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.

What You Can Do:

Immediately contact members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture to express your concerns with SB 650 and ask that they do not advance the bill. Emails and voice messages can be submitted on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday prior to the committee meeting at noon.

Contact Information for Committee Members:

Senator Darryl Rouson, rouson.darryl.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5019

Senator Loranne Ausley, ausley.loranne.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5003

Senator Perry Thurston, thurston.perry.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5033

Senator Tina Polsky, polsky.tina.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5029

Senator Keith Perry, perry.keith.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5008

Senator Jim Boyd, boyd.jim.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5021

Senator Ana Rodriguez, rodriguez.ana.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5039

Senator Danny Burgess, danny.burgess.web@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5020

Senator Jennifer Bradley, jennifer.bradley@flsenate.gov, (850)487-5005

For additional information, please contact doglaw@akc.org or call 919-816-3720.

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