Del. Gov. John Carney is expected to sign a bill creating stricter laws on how long dogs can be left outside, which was passed by the General Assembly last week.
The period of time a dog can legally be tethered outside will be reduced from 18 hours to nine hours after the new law is enacted. A dog also can’t be left unattended outside for more than two hours, or be outside more than 15 minutes when the National Weather Service issues a heat or cold advisory or emergency.
The legislation improves enforceability and animal safety, said the state’s Office of Welfare Director Christina Motoyoshi.
“We’re here 12 hours a day, so trying to prove a dog is outside 18 hours is really difficult. It’s a little easier now with a nine-hour time frame,” she said.
“And it’s a more reasonable time frame for a dog to be outside. No dog should be chained 24/7, and we know the detrimental effects long-term tethering has on a dog, physically, psychology. They also get bored and bark, which leads to nuisance complaints, and bites are more likely to happen from a dog that’s tethered.”
The bill also improves protections for certain breeds, including taking into account that short-haired dogs are not the only ones affected by the cold, and requires crates include at least partial non-wire flooring.
Failure to comply will result in a civil penalty of $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 for each subsequent violation.
“Dogs are just like children and ourselves. They cannot bear extreme weather without protection from it, and they can be harmed by being tied outside for long periods of time, mentally and physically,” said Jane Pierantozzi of Faithful Friends Animal Society, which advocated for the legislation.