Philadelphia Council considers allowing, regulating electric fences

Some Philadelphia businesses have electrified security fences. A proposed law would make that legal, with some restrictions.

The bill says electrified fencing could be used only in commercial areas and only with limited voltage. Fences could use up to 12 volts of electricity — the same voltage as a car battery.

Councilman Bobby Henon, who says electrified fencing should be option to keep thieves from scaling fences, says he wants to regulate how much current can be used.

“This legislation will allow businesses to install security fences under certain conditions. Currently there are a handful of these fences in the city,” he said. “Some are in my district, and they are unregulated. This bill simply implements standards and regulations for these fences.”

Some council members are worried about the shock the fence gives and if pets might get hurt.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell asked about the power of the fence.

“What if an animal were walking across the fence? What would happen?” she said.

Experts testified that the shock given is not enough to hurt a person or a pet, but is unpleasant enough to be a deterrent.

Councilman Curtis Jones says the bill bars using electric fencing in a residential area.

“I don’t want my neighbor next door deciding that my grandkid playing baseball shouldn’t be stepping on their grass and therefore they put up an electric fence,” Jones said.

The bill has cleared one committee vote so far.

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