On Thursday, February 25, an Oklahoma House committee is considering a bill that would restrict tethering in the state.
While some provisions are reasonable, some are very unclear and could have unintended consequences that will impact responsible dog owners and outdoor dog events.
Those who reside or participate in performance and other outdoor dog events in Oklahoma are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee today. Let them know that you agree dogs should never be treated in a cruel manner, but that House Bill 1580 as written is unclear and could have negative impacts on responsible dog owners and sportsmen in the state. Scroll down for contact information.
The AKC supports some provisions of House Bill 1580, including allowing dogs to be temporarily tethered outside, so long as the weather is appropriate for the breed, age and health of the animal.
However, there are other provisions that are unclear and could have the potential to cause unintended negative consequences, and Oklahoma residents and sportsmen are encouraged to view the bill to see how it could impact you caring for your dog at your home, and in public situations including outdoor dog events:
- Unclear tethering provisions that could actually harm dogs – Under HB 1580, Section B, a dog may not be kept or confined outside unless certain criteria are met. It is unclear if this would prohibit even temporary tethering in a humane manner for more than 15 minutes (including situations such as a person who does not have a fenced yard needing to let the dog outside for a brief time), or even some situations when the owner is with the dog but does not meet other criteria listed including size of yard, specific fencing requirements, outdoor sheltering, or a 10-foot tether.
Many of the criteria listed should not be necessary for a temporary tethering situation. In addition, the tether length requirement could endanger a dog in certain circumstances, causing it to become tangled or allowing a dog to wander into public areas or harmful situations.
The exceptions listed in the bill are only for camping and livestock working dogs and do not address every situation in which an owner may need to temporarily and humanely tether a dog for its safety – and the safety of a community to prevent a dog running at large.
- Unclear provisions could impact humane outdoor dog events in the state – As written, this bill could also have a negative impact on outdoor dog events in Oklahoma. As written, this bill would not appear to allow for temporary humane tethering at these events unless shelter, fencing or a 10-foot tether is provided. This would significantly limit the ability of dogs to participate in these events as it cannot be expected that shelter and fencing be provided for all animals, and as previously noted, the long tethers can prove dangerous to the dogs.
What You Can Do:
If you reside or participate in outdoor dog activities/events in Oklahoma, please contact the committee prior to the hearing on Thursday, February 25. Be sure to mention how these bills could impact you, and the efforts you make to ensure your dog is tethered in a humane manner.
If you are a constituent of a committee member, use the form provided and be sure to mention you are a constituent when contacting them.
The full committee contact information is as follows:
Rande Worthen, Chair (Comanche County)
Gerrid Kendrix, Vice Chair (Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa Counties)
Carol Bush (Tulsa County)
Ross Ford (Tulsa County)
Jason Lowe (Oklahoma County)
Stan May (Tulsa, Wagoner Counties)
Lonnie Sims (Creek, Tulsa Counties)
Danny Sterling (Cleveland, Pottawatomie)
Judd Strom (Nowata, Osage, Washington)
AKC Government Relations continues to closely monitor this bill and other bills impacting dog owners in Oklahoma. For questions, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.