Tethers & Restraints Information

Tethering OrdinanceOn October 8, 2018, the City of St. Joseph City Council passed a bill amending Chapter 5 Animals (PDF) of the Code of Ordinances to provide regulations for the unlawful restraint and tethering of dogs and requirements for housing enclosures for dogs, having been read the first time on September 24, 2018, was read a second time and passed.

Tethering Brochure (PDF)
Copy of Tethering Ordinance (PDF)

What is meant by “chaining” or “tethering” dogs?
Tethering refers to the keeping of dogs on chains, ropes or other such tie-outs versus within a fenced area. It is often defined in reference to a stationary object (for example, a dog chained to a stake or tree), but also includes overhead trolley systems. Tethering does not refer to walking a dog on a leash.

Is there a problem with continuous chaining or tethering?
Yes. The practice is considered inhumane by the USDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association. It poses as a possible threat to the safety of the animal and to the public.

Why is tethering inhumane?
The practice of tethering as a regular means of confinement can lead to unwanted behaviors in dogs due to lack of socialization, exercise and interaction with humans or other animals. Dogs are naturally social animals that require interactions with other dogs and people. A dog that is kept chained or tethered and not allowed these freedoms may become neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.

Tethering can also cause physical harm to a pet. Constant yanking and straining while on a tether or chain can lead to sores around the neck, and in extreme cases of neglect the collar becomes embedded into the neck. Dogs can become entangled in the chain or tether and cause themselves injury or prevent them from getting to food, water or shelter.

How else can people confine their pet?
A dog housed outdoors is best kept in a fenced yard or pen with adequate space from which he cannot escape. If housed outdoors, the pet needs to be provided with adequate food, water and shelter. Enclosure requirements must be securely built and adequately sized for the type, size and number of animals confined. Each dog must have 100 square feet of space to eat, sleep, drink and eliminate.

How is the use of chains or tethers to be managed?
Placing a dog on a tether to get fresh air or to eliminate outdoors is acceptable. The ordinance:

  • Regulates the hours in which a dog can be tethered;
  • Restricts tethering when the temperatures become harmful;
  • Requires food, water and shelter be available for dogs tethered longer than 30 minutes;
  • Requires the dog to be supervised while tethered (which means tethering may not be used as a primary method of restraint);
  • And restricts the tethering of a dog under 6 months of age.
  • The ordinance also requires that the tethered animal be in a properly-fitted collar (no choke or prong collars allowed) and from the fixed point of the tether, the length of the tether must be at least 3 times the length of the animal from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail (not including the tail). The area must be free of obstacles or debris which may cause injury or harm to the animal.

As an alternative to tethering, we recommend bringing your dog inside and training them to be a well behaved part of your family. A fence is a safe and healthy alternative to a tether and allows your dog freedom without all of the damage of a tether. An invisible fence or in ground fence is another great alternative for keeping your pet confined to your yard. Outdoor pets must have adequate food, water, and shelter available.