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Table of State Dog Tether Laws



Rebecca F. Wisch


Animal Legal & Historical Center
Publish Date:
2009 (updated 2013)
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law

Printable Version


“In which states is it illegal to chain or tether your dog?”

 

 

Tethering or chaining a dog under most state laws means that a person ties a dog with a rope or line to a stationary object. While the laws themselves vary from state to state, they do have several consistent features. Some laws that address tethering allow a dog to be tethered for a reasonable period of time. California prohibits tethering a dog to a stationary object, but allows a dog to be tethered “no longer than is necessary for the person to complete a temporary task that requires the dog to be restrained for a reasonable period.” Connecticut makes it illegal for a dog to be confined or tethered for an unreasonable period of time. What constitutes an “unreasonable period” is not defined by statute in Connecticut. However, Texas law states that a reasonable period is one that does not exceed three hours in a 24-hour period, and is “no longer than is necessary for the owner to complete a temporary task that requires the dog to be restrained.”

 

Other states include tethering as part of their anti-cruelty chapters. Indiana defines “neglect” as restraining an animal for more than a brief period in a manner that endangers the animal's life or health by the use of a rope, chain, or tether. West Virginia and the District of Columbia include “cruelly chains” in its list of activities that constitute misdemeanor animal cruelty.

 

Some states specify the manner as to how a dog must be tethered or chained. For example, Delaware law provides that a tether shall be 6 feet or at least 3 times the length of the dog as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail. Likewise, Indiana and Michigan also require that the tether be three times the length of the dog. Many states require that the tether allow the dog unencumbered access to food, water, and shelter. States that do allow some form of tethering usually require that the tethering must be done in a manner that does not endanger the dog’s welfare.

 

The table below provides a summary of each state law that addresses tethering. A link is provided in the citation that goes to the actual text of the law.


State Citation and Link Summary of Law Penalty
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California West’s Ann. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122335

No person shall tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog to any dog house, tree, fence, or other stationary object.

A person may temporarily tether a dog “no longer than is necessary for the person to complete a temporary task.”

Infraction or misdemeanor

 

Animal control may issue a warning to a person who violates this chapter, requiring the owner to correct the violation, in lieu of an infraction or misdemeanor, unless the violation endangers the health or safety of the animal, or the animal has been wounded as a result of the activity.

Colorado
Connecticut CT ST § 22-350a Cannot confine or tether a dog for an unreasonable period of time

Fine of no more than $100 for 1st offense

 

$100-250 for 2nd offense

 

$250-500 for any subsequent offenses

Delaware 9 Del.C. § 904

Law addresses the design of a tether:

 

  • Outdoor dog houses: tethers shall be attached so that dog cannot become entangled with other objects or come into physical contact with other dogs
  • Tether shall be 6 feet long or at least 3 times the length of the dog
  • Must allow the dog convenient access to dog house and to food and water

D.C. DC ST § 22.1001

"Cruelly chains" means attaching an animal to a stationary object or a pulley by means of a chain, rope, tether, leash, cable, or similar restraint under circumstances that may endanger its health, safety, or well-being.

 

Cruelly chains includes a tether that:

 

  • Causes the animal to choke
  • Does not permit the animal to reach food, water, shade, dry ground
  • Does not permit the animal to escape harm

Imprisonment up to 180 days and/or fine up to $250

Florida
Georgia
Hawaii HI ST § 711-1109 A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals in the second degree if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tethers, fastens, ties, or restrains a dog to a doghouse, tree, fence, or any other stationary object by means of a choke collar, pinch collar, or prong collar.

Misdemeanor offense results in forfeiture of animal and reimbursement for costs incurred for care of animal

Idaho
Illinois
Indiana IN ST § 35-46-3-.05

"Neglect" means restraining an animal for more than a brief period in a manner that endangers the animal's life or health by the use of a rope, chain, or tether that:

 

  • is too heavy
  • causes the animal to choke
  • is less than 3x the length of the animal
  • seriously endangers the animal's life or health
Not specifically listed
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana LSA-R.S. 14:102.26 It shall be unlawful to tie, tether, or restrain any animal in a manner that is inhumane, cruel, or detrimental to its welfare. Violation: fine up to $300
Maine ME ST. Tit. 7 § 3972 Unlawful to tie, tether or restrain any animal in a manner that is inhumane or detrimental to its welfare civil violation: forfeiture up to $100
Maryland MD CRIM LAW § 10-623

A person may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the movement of the dog;

Or one that uses a collar that:

  • is made primarily of metal

  • is not at least as large as the circumference of the dog's neck plus 1 inch

  • that restricts the access of the dog to suitable and sufficient clean water or appropriate shelter

  • in unsafe or unsanitary conditions

  • that causes injury to the dog
Misdemeanor subject to imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or both
Massachusetts M.G.L.A. 140 § 174E

No person owning or keeping a dog shall chain or tether a dog to a stationary object including, but not limited to, a structure, dog house, pole or tree for longer than 24 consecutive hours.

The tether used must not allow the dog to leave the owner's, guardian's or keeper's property.

Tether must be designed for dogs (no logging chains or other lines or devices not designed for tethering dogs).

No chain or tether shall weigh more than 1/8 of the dog's body weight.

No dog under the age of 6 months shall be tethered outside for any length of time.

A trolley system or a tether attached to a pulley in a cable run is allowed provided listed conditions are met.

No person owning or keeping a dog shall subject the dog to cruel conditions or inhumane chaining or the tethering at any time (i.e., exposure to filth, taunting or harassing tethered dog, or subjecting dog to dangerous conditions like animal attacks).

1st offense: issued a written warning or punished by a fine of not more than $50

2nd offense: a fine of not more than $100

3rd or subsequent offense: a fine of not more than $300, and subject to impoundment of the dog in a local shelter at the owner's or guardian's expense pending compliance with this section, or loss of ownership of the dog.

Michigan M.C.L. § 750.50

An owner, possessor, or person having custody shall not tether a dog unless the tether is at least 3 times the length of the dog and is attached to a harness or nonchoke collar designed for tethering.

1 animal: 93 days imprisonment and/or $1,000 fine (misdemeanor)

 

2 or 3 animals or the death of an animal: 1 year/$2,000 fine (misdemeanor)

 

4-10 animals or at least one previous conviction: 2 years/$2,000 fine (felony)

 

10 or more animals: 4 years/$5,000 fine (felony)

Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada NV ST 574.100 A person shall not restrain a dog using a tether, chain, tie, trolley, or pulley system that:
  • is less than 12 ft. in length

  • fails to allow the dog to move at least 12 ft.

  • allows the dog to reach a fence or other object in which it could become entangled

  • uses a prong, pinch, or choke collar

  • for more than 14 hrs. in a 24-hr. period
1st offense: misdemeanor
  • city or county jail for 2 days to 6 months

  • perform 48 - 120 hours community service

  • fine: $200-1,000
2nd offense: jail time from 10 days - 6 months with increased fines and service.
 
3rd or subsequent offense: felony
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island Gen. Laws, 1956, § 4-13-42

It is a violation for an owner or keeper to:

  1. Keep any dog on a permanent tether that restricts movement of the tethered dog to an area less than one hundred thirteen square feet (113 sq. ft.), or less than a six foot (6’) radius at ground level.
  2. Tether a dog with a choke-type collar or prong-type collar.
  3. Keep any dog tethered for more than ten (10) hours during a twenty-four (24) hour period or keep any dog confined in a pen, cage or other shelter for more than fourteen (14) hours during any twenty-four (24) hour period.

 

Any person in violation of this section shall be given a warning for a first violation. Second and subsequent violations of this subsection can be considered a violation of § 4-1-2. Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense.

Any person in violation of this section shall be imprisoned not exceeding eleven (11) months, or fined not less than fifty dollars ($50.00) nor exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or both. Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense.

South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee T. C. A. § 39-14-202 Offense to knowingly tie, tether, or restrain a dog in a manner that results in the dog suffering bodily injury.

1st offense: Class A misdemeanor

2nd or subsequent conviction: Class E felony

Texas TX HEALTH & S § 821.076 - 081

Owner may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the dog's movement during certain times of day or during extreme weather

 

A restraint unreasonably limits a dog's movement if the restraint is a length shorter than the greater of 5x the length of the dog or10 feet.

 

Also if it is in an unsafe condition or causes injury to the dog.

 

Law does not apply to running line, pulley, or trolley system if the collar meets requirements.

Class C misdemeanor

Class B misdemeanor if previously convicted

Utah
Vermont VT ST T.13 s. 352 A person commits the crime of cruelty to animals if he or she ties, tethers, or restrains an animal, either a pet or livestock, in a manner that is inhumane or is detrimental to its welfare
Virginia VA ST § 3.2-6500 Each owner shall provide for companion animals adequate space.
 
"Adequate space" means a tether that:
  • is appropriate to the age and size of the animal

  • is attached to the animal by a properly applied collar, halter, or harness

  • configured so as to protect the animal from injury and prevent the animal or tether from becoming entangled with other objects or animals

  • is at least three times the length of the animal
Class 4 misdemeanor
Washington
West Virginia WV ST s. 61-18-19 It is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cruelly chain or tether an animal Misdemeanor: fine of $300 to $2,000 or jail up to six months
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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