With animal rights in mind, a delegate from Virginia is hoping to make tethering animals a criminal offense.
Del. John Bell and his wife, Margaret, have been fostering animals for the past eight years. They've opened their home to over 50 homeless dogs in an attempt to give them a second chance at life.
It's that experience that inspired him to introduce House Bill 1802. If passed, the bill will prohibit outdoor tethering of companion animals. The document details how tethering would only be permitted if the animal's owner is within sight and it doesn't affect the well-being of the animal.
Several cities and states already have restrictions concerning the tethering of animals, but most come with vague contingencies. In Connecticut, for example, it's "illegal for a dog to be confined or tethered for an unreasonable period of time." But what constitutes an unreasonable period of time? An hour? A day?
Other states, including Indiana and Michigan, dictate how long the tether must be by saying, "the tether must be three times the length of the dog."
In Alabama, Kentucky, Kansas, Wyoming, and several other states, however, there are no legal restrictions pertaining to tethering.
Bell intends to amend a section of Virginia code that regulates how pet owners treat their animals. It states that owners must provide adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care, but Bell wants to go a step further.
He told ABC News;
"We've seen many instances where animals were tethered for long periods of time in either extreme hot and cold weather. They were unattended and no one was around."
Bell has been working with the Richmond SPCA to fight for animal rights. According to Robin Robertson Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA, tethering has become an extreme problem in Virginia.
"It is a terrible thing for the dog and it causes dogs to become aggressive and territorial and thereby to become a risk to human safety."
As social animals, dogs need interaction in order to lead happy, healthy lives. In many tethering cases, dog owners keep their animals tied in yards or on driveways for their entire lives. Besides brief interactions where food is thrown in their general direction, they're isolated and exposed. This affects the dog's emotional well-being as well as their physical welfare.
Bell's proposed bill is scheduled to be heard on January 30 by the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House of Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. If you think tethering dogs is a problem in your area, speak out to your local delegate and perpetuate the change animals deserve.
Is tethering a problem in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments below.
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