The American Kennel Club’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR) has just learned that Georgia House Bill 1450, entitled the Georgia Safe Outdoor Dog Act, will be considered by the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee tomorrow, Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at 9AM.
As currently worded, the measure establishes some good practices to assure the health and wellness of dogs in long-term tethering situation; however it also creates problematic unnecessary limitations for temporary tethering, including limiting the ability of owners or those in possession of a dog to tether a dog outdoors for a short period of time during safe and pleasant weather conditions. All concerned Georgia residents are encouraged to contact the committee members and express any concerns with the proposal.
As introduced, HB 1450 would deem it unlawful for any person to leave a dog outside and unattended without access to:
- Adequate shelter including a doghouse, water, and food;
- An area of sufficient size that would allow the animal to move around normally and exercise and avoid standing water and exposure to excess waste;
- Shade, whether by natural or artificial means, from direct sunlight that is separate from the dog’s shelter.
HB 1450 would also deem it unlawful for any person to leave a dog outside and unattended while attached to a restraint unless the restraint does not restrict the dog’s normal range of movement, to be measured as (1) five times the length of the dog, from nose to base of tail, or (2) ten feet, whichever is greater.
HB 1450 would also make it unlawful for any person to put a restraint on a dog at any time unless it is not a chain; does not have a weight attached to it; is not unreasonably heavy; is not attached to a choke, pinch, prong, or similar type of collar; and is attached to a properly-fitted collar or harness.
HB 1450 provides some exemptions from these limitations, including but not limited to the uses of restraints on dogs:
- In a public camping or recreational area in compliance with the area’s rules;
- While the owner and dog engage in, or actively train for, an activity conducted under a valid license issued by the state;
- While the owner and dog engage in shepherding or herding cattle or livestock;
- While the owner and dog engage in the business of cultivating agricultural products;
- While the owner and dog engage in, or actively train for, hunting or field trials;
- As part of an appropriately-designed trolley system; or
- Being walked with a handheld leash.
HB 1450 provides for penalties for violations, ranging from correction notices up to $250 fines per offense, and allows for impoundment if an offense poses an imminent risk to the health or safety of a dog or if the dog has been physically injured. HB 1450 also will not preempt any local ordinances or resolutions on the matter.
AKC POSITION STATEMENT ON TETHERING
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/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.
AKC is concerned that HB 1450 would effectively prohibit an owner or someone in possession of a dog from temporarily tethering a dog outdoors when weather conditions are pleasant and do not present a threat to the dog’s health or safety.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Concerned Georgia residents are encouraged to contact the members of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and express their concerns. The list of committee members may be accessed at https://www.legis.ga.gov/committees/house/87. Click on each member’s name to access their profile page, which includes their email address. Comments to the entire committee may be sent to Leigh Goff, Committee Administrative Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View advocacy resources from AKC Government Relations:
AKC Government Relations will continue to provide updates on HB 1450 and other Georgia legislation as developments warrant. For more information, contact email@example.com.