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Chicago Considers Anti-Tethering Ordinance


Chicago is one of the few cities where it’s technically illegal to tie-out your dog in front of Starbucks or a convenience store. I participated to write this into city ordinance several years ago. Now, Ald. Ray Lopez (15th ward) is supporting an addition,  to make it illegal to “stake out or tie out (or tether) any dog, regardless of gender, on private property for than two consecutive hours.” This addition not only supports humane treatment of animals, but also will save lives, helping to move Chicago toward a No Kill goal.

Here’s why I fully endorse this addition:

Pet expert Steve Dale writes that Chicago is considering a ban on tethering or chaining dogs in yardsPerfectly sweet and wonderful dogs may be transformed (at least when tethered) into aggressive and dangerous dogs and develop territorial and/or barrier aggression.  As dogs pull to the end of the chain or rope to get to people it hurts. These dogs may associate the pain with greeting people. Tethering also interferes with a dog’s natural flight or fight response, forcing “fight.” Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely than untethered canines to bite humans.

People will chain out dogs purposefully as guard dogs. Some of these dogs are temperamentally unsound, and unsocialized – when an unknowing child or delivery person enters to where the tied-out dog can get to, a dog attack may occur.


The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement in the July 2, 1996, Federal Register against tethering: “Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog’s movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog’s shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog’s movement and potentially causing injury.”Pet expert Steve Dale writes that Chicago is considering a ban on tethering or chaining dogs in yards

Indeed dogs may choke to death tied up on a rope or tether, or suffer wounds in attempts to get away.

Forced to ride out storms, tethered dogs may be more likely to develop thunderstorm anxiety. Of course, being forced to ride out storms without shelter is inhumane. Tied out on metal stakes, dogs might be struck by lightening.

Backyards are not babysitters for dogs – as tethered dogs are more likely to be kept outdoors longer, more likely exposed to extreme hot or cold weather, and without shelter – kept in inhumane conditions.

In addition to the psychological damage wrought by continuous chaining, dogs forced to live on a chain make easy targets for teasing from insensitive humans, stinging bites from insects, and, in the worst cases, attacks by other animals. Chained dogs are also easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for sale to research institutions or to be used as training fodder for organized animal fights.

Pet expert Steve Dale writes that Chicago is considering a ban on tethering or chaining dogs in yardsTied out dogs may get loose, and therefore lost, landing at Animal Care & Control, or to get hit by a car. Unsupervised roaming dogs are statistically more likely to be involved in dog attacks on people.

Tied out dogs often spend hours barking, annoying neighbors, creating calls to police and most of all illustrating the unhappiness or displeasure of these individual dogs. They’re barking for a reason, from boredom to absolute despair.

Some ordinances offer great detail, suggesting what circumstances or not tying out or tethering a dog is legal or illegal. The Chicago proposal is short and sweet: Don’t do it.

I’m in full support of this proposal, which will enhance public safety, mean fewer dogs are given up to animal control or land there after escaping a chain or tether, and most of all supports humane treatment of dogs.


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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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