Some people leave their dogs tied up for so long with sharp collars, their necks get impaled and bloodied. Now the city wants to do more to stop such treatment.
The City Council passed a dog tethering bill Jan. 18 that will limit how long dogs are tied up and the type of collars used.
Council members voted 47-1 in favor of the measure. The bill will limit the length of time a dog may be tethered to three hours within a 12-hour period. Collars that are heavy, likely to get entangled and choke collars that pinch dogs will be prohibited.
The measure was first brought up in 2009, but failed to pass. In 2010 Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), introduced the bill and spoke at a press conference last week.
“An animal that is tied up is dangerous, three times more likely to bite,” Vallone said. “This bill protects animals and people.”
Dog owners who violate the rule and as a result injure their dog could get a fine of $250, and up to $500 or three months in jail for repeat offenses.
The law also requires that dog owners provide shelter, food and water for tethered dogs.
Whether the bill violates human personal property rights and is effective at helping animal safety is a part of the debate concerning the issue.
Bobbi Giordano, executive director of a dog shelter based in Glendale, said the bill was positive for animals.
“Vallone’s anti-tethering measure is a positive step in the prevention of animal cruelty in New York City and will help keep animals from being physically and mentally harmed,” said Giordano, of Bobbi and the Strays.
Many other animal activists also support the bill. Tethered dogs are five times more likely to bite children, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which promoted the bill.
Among those opposed to the bill is one city lawmaker. Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who was the only person to vote against the measure, said enforcement is the problem, not a lack of fines.
“There are already laws and fines for dog tethering—enforce them,” Barron said. “I am against regressive taxation on working class families.”
There are 13 states that have laws that regulate dog tethering in some way, according to the ASPCA, which said some have found the measure to be effective at reducing dog violence against people.
Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill at a ceremony sometime in February.