Law prohibits tethering dogs outside

Published 11:53 am Wednesday, November 11, 2020

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Often a tethered dog is a forgotten dog, and with cold weather approaching owners are reminded that Virginia law prohibits the tethering of dogs outside during extreme weather.

New legislation also increases the minimum length of a tether from 10 feet to 15 feet.

Assistant Director Francee Schuma of the Southside SPCA said far too often they see animals suffering on a tether.

“Their chains/cords are wrapped so tightly around trees or other objects that they cannot reach their food, water or housing. More often than not, the water has been turned over by the tether and the animals can go hours, if not days, without water. Well-worn paths, or ruts, are evident where frustrated and lonely dogs pace back and forth, day in and day out.”

Schuma said, “Most of the dogs we encountered that are tethered are severely malnourished and unsocialized. Sadly, many of the calls for help that we receive are for animals tethered in extreme weather conditions or inadequate housing, food, or water.”

The new law also expands the definition of what it means to provide “adequate shelter.” It prevents leaving tethered dogs outside when the temperature is 32 degrees or below and 85 degrees or higher or in adverse weather conditions such as during warnings for hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe weather.

During cold weather, a dog’s shelter has to have a windbreak at its entrance and provide a quantity of bedding material consisting of straw or cedar shavings to protect them from the elements.

“A dog cannot regulate its body temperature if it is malnourished or underweight.  Body fat can act as an insulator, but still, most dogs cannot withstand temperatures below 45 degrees,” Schuma said. “A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t tolerate the temperature, they can’t.”

According to Schuma, tethering a dog in cold temperatures puts them at risk for hyperthermia if their tether should get tangled and they can’t access shelter. “If you can’t, or won’t, bring a dog inside, you should consider surrendering them to a rescue that can provide for them.”

Schuma said the Southside SPCA is pleased these laws have been passed and are available to offer assistance to members of the community that may need a crate or other supplies to help bring their pets indoors.

The Southside SPCA located at 7352 Patrick Henry Highway, Meherrin. They can be reached by calling (434) 736-9595 or via email at info@southsidespca. org. PETA may also be contacted at (757) 622-7382 to report any animal is in imminent danger.