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New Delaware law sets time limit on keeping dogs tied up outside

State Sen. Jack Walsh (left) holds his dog Maisey as he talks with State Rep. Mike Ramone at the Carousel Park Bark Park Wednesday morning. Both lawmakers sponsored a bill extending protections for dogs being kept outside. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

State Sen. Jack Walsh (left) holds his dog Maisey as he talks with State Rep. Mike Ramone at the Carousel Park Bark Park Wednesday morning. Both lawmakers sponsored a bill extending protections for dogs being kept outside. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Surrounded by dogs at a northern Delaware “Bark Park,” Gov. John Carney signed a measure designed to limit how long dogs are allowed to be tied up outside.

Under the new law, if no one is home, dogs can only be tied up for two hours. In times of extreme heat or cold, dogs can only be kept outside for 15 minutes.

“You can’t leave a dog outside unsupervised for more than 15 minutes during a national weather situation, both hot and cold,” said state Sen. Jack Walsh who sponsored the bill and brought his dog Maisey along for the signing ceremony. “It allows our Office of Animal Welfare to more easily police that.”

The measure also clarifies what type of structure dogs can be kept in outside.

State Sen. Trey Charles Paradee tosses a ball with his dog Teddy Bear at at the Carousel Park Bark Park Wednesday morning. Paradee co-sponsored a bill extending protections for dogs being kept outside. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

“If you leave a dog outside, you have to do the right thing and provide the proper shelter for our four-legged friends outside,” Walsh said.

Previously, dog houses were allowed to have wire flooring as long as it was kept in good condition and didn’t hurt the dog’s paws. The new law bans wire flooring all together. Metal structures are also banned.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Earl Jaques said he was inspired to sponsor the legislation after seeing lots of dogs kept outside in miserable conditions.

“I drive by and I see dogs chained out there in the rain and in the snow, it breaks my heart. And I’m glad we got to this bill so that won’t happen again — it really will not,” Jaques said. “Our pets are part of our family, and we think about them and we should treat them just like we would any member of our family.”

A first violation of the new law could result in a $100 fine. A second violation could cost $250, with each subsequent violation costing $500, plus court costs.

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