Putting a “Paws” on Tethering


Katie Tanner and Brooke Heath

According to Waaytv, the Huntsville City Council has voted to make tethering dogs illegal. Before now, tethering of dogs was legal under certain circumstances and if you owned the proper tethering equipment, so as to ensure no harm came to the animal. With this change, all forms of tethering, no matter how short or humane, is now illegal. If you are caught tethering your dog, a $200 fine is charged, with consequences increasing based on the number of offenses.

Was this the correct decision? A poll of Bob Jones students revealed varied responses, with 24.4% of students saying tying down a dog was always wrong. 46.3% said that it would be okay for short periods of time. However, 2.5% said that it was okay, no matter how long.

Tethering an animal for any amount of time is considered animal cruelty. Patriot Paws sponsor, Nicole Coker, stated that “[dogs’] mental well-being depends on interactions with humans. When they are isolated, they can become depressed, unsocialized, and even aggressive.” She added that dogs that have been left in these situations are typically in “very bad shape” and “can take months to get them to a point where they can be safely adopted.”

Dogs should not be tethered if their owners are not outside to accompany them. Coker agrees that tying up/kenneling a dog for a short period of time (i.e. while you do yard work) is fine. There are alternatives to tethering:

  • Hiring a dogsitter. Many teens would be willing to do this job for rather cheap, and it means your dog is still being loved and cared for when you are unable to.
  • Building a fence. If the reason for tethering is to prevent your dog from running away, a fence gives your dog space to roam but ensures that they will stay nearby. Good dog owners should care more about the well being of their dog than the cost of the fence.
  • When adopting a dog, do research on what breeds you can adequately care for. Small lap dogs can easily be kept inside for longer periods, whereas large, high-energy breeds need outdoor space and lots of activity.  
  • Not getting a dog. If you do not have the ability to care for one, simply don’t get one. If a pet is something you really want, consider options that require less care. Cats are one example of another option for a cuddly friend.

With Huntsville passing this law, will Madison follow its lead? We will have to wait and see. Until then, if you are looking to adopt a dog, consider adopting from a shelter. Those dogs may have been victims of tethering and neglect, and it could be you giving them the love they’d missed out on.