Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Jersey. AB 3803. Say No to Excessive Tethering of Dogs.

My fellow New Jerseyans, there is an assembly bill introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone that addresses the plight of tethered dogs in our state. This bill is known as AB 3803, and it seeks to limit the amount of time a dog can be tethered in a 24-hour period. Specifically, a dog cannot be tethered between 10pm and 6am, or for more than an hour outside of those times. When tethering is allowed, additional provisos include disallowing choke-type tethers, tethers that are less than ten feet long, tethers that are heavier than 1/8 of the dog's weight, prohibiting more than one dog per tether, and prohibiting the confinement of a 6-month or older dog to a permanent enclosure that is less than 150 square feet.

So far, so good for me. The rationale behind this bill centers on the relationship between tethering and the hostility it engenders in dogs. Dogs, because they are social beings, do not react well to excessive tethering. After prolonged tethering, what was once a nice dog is now a growling, unsocilaized, would-be biter. Heck, you don't have to convince me. I see the end result of prolonged captivity all the time. Without inquiring about the history of the new arrivals at the shelter, I can tell who is a backyard dog with a few exceptions. It's like being at a round table where it is easy to discern who has a happy disposition from those who have long faces. You don't have to be Dr. Phil to spot a troubled sentient being. And I wouldn't say " Only God knows what these dogs went through " because we---the shelter volunteers---know what chaining/tethering can do to a dog. Believe me, the anger and hostility is easily recognizable. It's like reading a newspaper. The fine point here is that the bill still allows the tethering of dogs for reasons relating to the dog's own safety, the safety of individuals in the immediate area, conducting law enforcement, grooming and veterinary procedures---things like that. But excessive tethering? Days-long chaining? Forget about it. That's creating a monster. If you want a permanent fixture in your backyard, get a statue.

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