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The Canine Legislation Department is currently monitoring numerous state bills proposing laws that would ban, restrict, or limit the practice of tethering dogs. AKC recognizes that under certain circumstances, responsible tethering is an appropriate method of containing a dog. As many of these bills severely restrict a dog owner’s right to responsibly tether an animal, many constituents have contacted AKC regarding how best to respond to and oppose these proposals.

The American Kennel Club believes that dog owners bear a special responsibility to their canine companions to provide proper care and humane treatment at all times.  This includes an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior.  The American Kennel Club also believes that dogs should not be kept in circumstances or numbers where these needs can not be adequately fulfilled.  Additionally, anyone convicted of animal cruelty involving a dog will have all AKC privileges suspended.

With substantive animal cruelty statutes already in place, states and local governments need to enforce existing law in cruel tethering cases. Irresponsible owners who are not providing humane treatment for their animals can and should be prosecuted under current law.  The already-existing cruelty laws make these proposed tethering bans or restrictions unnecessary.

For example, North Carolina Senate Bill 1172, introduced by Senator Cowell, proposes to make most instances of tethering dogs a criminal act.  However, North Carolina’s existing animal cruelty statute—N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-360 (1999)—already properly addresses all instances of animal cruelty, including cruel tethering, by providing that if any person shall intentionally overdrive, overload, wound, injure, kill, or deprive of necessary sustenance, or cause such damage to be inflicted upon any animal, such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.  This law applies to any act, omission, or case of neglect causing or permitting unjustifiable pain, suffering or death to an animal.  Enforcement of this law effectively negates any need for the proposed legislation.

North Carolina is not alone in its attempt to intervene unnecessarily with tethering as a useful tool for confining dogs.  Bills similar to North Carolina’s have been introduced in Maine, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.  (The proposals in Rhode Island and Virginia have been effectively quashed in committee.) 

AKC encourages concerned fanciers and dog owners to work with their legislators to ensure that laws make appropriate allowances for responsible tethering.  For more information regarding specific bills and bill status in any of the above mentioned states, contact AKC’s Canine Legislation Department at (919) 816-3720, or e-mail

The Canine Legislation Department is currently monitoring numerous state bills proposing laws…