Westchester County Passes Tether Law

Chained Dog

A chained dog is an unhealthy and unhappy dog

On Monday, May 20, 2019 the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) passed a tether law to help protect vulnerable animals tied up outside. CLAAW has been working with Westchester County legislators to create a law that will help to remedy the long list of problems associated with leaving animals chained and unattended.

There was an earlier version of the law that would allow dogs to be chained for 17 hours, unattended. CLAAW delivered information to the Westchester BOL that showed how unattended dogs who are tied up for long hours are among other issues, susceptible to:

  • Neglect and disregard by irresponsible owners
  • Unexpected weather conditions such as severe storms
  • Attacks from other animals who come at the chained dog who has no way to escape
  • Loss of access to water if water bowl is overturned
  • Abuse by people who take advantage of the dog’s helplessness
  • Theft by unscrupulous people who may sell the dog to animal labs or to others who profit off the misery of animals
  • Community nuisance problems with a frantic and frustrated dog continuously barking for hours on end

With these issues in mind, the proposed law was amended to include a requirement that a responsible party is on the premises when the dog is tethered. This means that someone can’t just tie up the dog and leave for hours while the dog is at the mercy of the world around her/him.

In addition to the issues listed above, there are other issues which include psychological and neurotic issues associated with being trapped by the chain for too much of tethered dogs’ lives. We will continue to fight for an even stronger law that does not allow dogs to be tethered for long lengths of time but we believe that the requirement, in this new law, to have someone there with the dog at all times, is a step in the right direction.

Thank you to all who signed our petition and to the Westchester County Legislators who worked hard to get this important law on the books.

Posted in animal rights, Dogs, NY, Tether Laws | Leave a comment

Westchester BOL Public Hearing on Tether Law

Westchester Board of Legislators
148 Martine Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
April 8,2019 at 7 PM

The Westchester County Board of Legislators is holding a public hearing on the proposed tether law. As it stands now they are considering a weak law that will do very little to protect the animals the law should be protecting. This proposed law only prohibits evening time tethering (11pm – 6am) — meaning that dogs can still legally be tethered the other 17 hours a day. There is also no requirement for a responsible party to be on the premises.

CLAAW sent the BOL a letter with research and examples of other laws, but the decision was made to move the current draft into public hearing. See previous post for more info on what we sent to the Westchester BOL.

Unfortunately only a few people are able to speak at Westchester meetings. In order to speak you need to get there early and sign up. Often there’s a line and they only take the first 8-10 people (I don’t recall the exact number). But even if folks can’t speak, being there will help. We can possibly hold 8 1/2 x 11 signs that can help send a message. Here is a link to The Chain is Inhumane Sign pdf if you want to print it out to bring with you.

The meeting starts at 7:00 (not sure when this particular public hearing will start). Address is:
148 Martine Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601

Posted in animal rights, Dogs, NY, Tether Laws, Westchester County | Leave a comment

The Chain is Inhumane

We have launched a petition that we plan to deliver to Westchester County. Please follow this link and sign our petition: The Chain is Inhumane! Also please feel free to post the link for the petition on social media. Together we can make animals’ lives better and safer.

Posted in animal rights, Dogs, Tether Laws | Leave a comment

Westchester County, NY Considering Tether Law

The Westchester County Legislature has begun discussions on ways to revise county humane laws to include restrictions on tethering dogs. CLAAW has submitted a letter to the Westchester County Legislature along with copies of laws passed in municipalities and other counties around the country. We have done this in order to advocate for a strong law that prohibits unattended, lengthy and dangerous tethering of dogs and other animals.

Here is the letter sent last week to every member of the Westchester Board of Legislators:

March 2019

Dear Legislator Covill, Legislator Cunzio and Legislation and Public Safety Committee Members:

We, at CLAAW, appreciate the opportunity to submit this statement for consideration regarding the proposed Westchester County Tether Law.

CLAAW is an organization focused on supporting local laws that help protect animals from harmful conditions. We have worked on laws pertaining to animal welfare with multiple municipalities across Westchester. Relevant to the matter of tethering animals, our work includes support, research and development of a tether law passed in Port Chester, NY. We wholeheartedly support efforts to bring a tether law discussion to a Westchester County public hearing. We, however, urge this Committee to revise the current draft law which allows for dogs to be tethered 17 hours a day without any supervision. This is far too long to provide any benefit and is in fact, detrimental to the animal.

Research on Tethering Dogs
Many municipalities across the nation have passed tether laws due to research that has shown the negative impacts to both dogs and communities when lengthy tethering is allowed. The USDA, for example, issued a statement against tethering that included this finding, “Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane…” The American Veterinary Medical Association states: “Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior.” Additionally, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reports, “Because of the psychological damage caused by continuous chaining, dogs that are subjected to it can become dangerous and vicious animals. They are more likely to bark incessantly and even attack children or adults who mistakenly enter into the area of the dog’s confinement. And if they do escape their restraint, they are not adequately socialized and are more likely to bite.” HSUS also references a Center for Disease Control report which states that, “Chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite.”

A law that allows dogs to be tethered for up to 17 hours a day goes against a dog’s nature, creates significant frustration for the dog, and ultimately is not beneficial to the dog or the community. The frustration of being tethered can cause aggressive behavior in an animal that may otherwise be docile.

Additionally, tethering a dog without human supervision creates a potentially dangerous environment for the dog as there is no barrier that prevents other animals (such as coyotes) from attacking, and the dog is trapped by the tether and has no means for escape. Unsupervised tethering also leaves the dog vulnerable to thieves who steal dogs to support illegal dog fighting operations or simply steal dogs to sell for money.

Are Tether Laws Enforceable?
Currently, there are 22 state laws and hundreds of municipalities across the US that address the tethering of animals. A community in Ashland, Oregon reached out to some of these municipalities that already had the law in effect to see how enforceable the laws actually were. The 12 municipalities they spoke with had Tether Laws that either banned tethering all together, or had a 1 hour continuous limit on the length of time an animal could be tethered. The population of these communities range from 3,000 to 800,000. In all but 1 community, the compliance rate is over 90% after warnings were issues (with many at 100% compliance). The following are quotes from several Animal Control Officers and supervisors from varying municipalities:

“This is a welcome and enforceable tool for the animal control section I oversee…This ordinance has made it possible for our officers to educate pet owners about the importance of interacting with their pets, proper activity, and exercise. It has also give us the ability and ‘the teeth’ to prosecute those individuals that refuse to comply…I highly recommend that other jurisdictions consider passing similar ordinances if they have issues with animal neglect, continuous chaining, and illegal dog fighting. Our ordinance has served us well.”

“Larry has enforced his county’s one-hour limit for a year now. Only two cases have gone to court, and each time Larry won by presenting photos of the animal. “I go by with a camera and take a photo that has the time and date imprinted on it,” he says. He goes back randomly at different times during the week. “It shows a pattern of the dog being on the chain…“Don’t go with an eight-hour limit,” he advises the city of Ashland. “There’s no way to enforce that.”

“This law has eliminated many other complaints, such as vicious dogs or dogs without water. The reason for this is that many of the tethered dogs were those abused dogs. This law has worked out fantastically. It was easier than I thought…”
Other municipalities have reported similar law enforcement experiences and this points to more evidence that Tether Laws are indeed enforceable.

Proposed Changes to Current Draft Tether Law
There are many problems associated with unsupervised tethering and CLAAW would like to suggest that Westchester County revise the proposed Tether Law to include:

  • A limit of 1 hour of tethering within a 12 hour period (similar to the current Suffolk County, NY law)
  • Responsible party be on the premises at time of tethering (similar to the Port Chester law and many other municipal laws, including: Miami, Fl, Austin TX, Gwinnett County, GA, among others)
  • In addition to no tethering during weather alerts, dogs should not be tethered if the weather creates discomfort for the dog. If a dog, for example, is shivering in the cold, or excessively panting in the heat, outdoor tethering should not be permitted under those conditions even if there is no official weather alert.

Thank you for bringing this important topic to a legislative discussion. We are certain that Westchester County does not want to support or encourage inhumane and potentially dangerous tethering, and we thank you for considering the above suggested changes. Fortunately there is a lot of research on the topic of tethering, and CLAAW is available to help provide additional information if necessary. The above recommended changes to the proposed tether law will go a long way in providing humane protection, safety and peace-of-mind for both the dogs and the people of Westchester County.

Suffolk County Tether Law

Port Chester Tether Law

New York City Tether Law

Tether laws from various municipalities and counties

Also see the Resources section for further information on tether laws around the country.

We urge Westchester County residents to write to their county legislator and let them know that you want a strong tether law for Westchester County that follows the guidelines listed in our letter and is similar to ones passed in Suffolk County and Port Chester.

You can find your county legislator here: District Map


Posted in Dogs, Tether Laws, Westchester County | Leave a comment

Ossining Passes Puppy and Kitten Mill Ban

In June of this year, Ossining was the seventh municipality to pass a puppy and kitten mill ban in Westchester County. We applaud the citizens of Ossining for bringing about this important legislation. You can see the law by going to the Village of Ossining’s posting of the law.

Congratulations Ossining!

Please contact us if you would like information about passing a similar law in your town.

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Kitten Mills, NY, puppy mills, Westchester County | Leave a comment

Westchester County Meets on Proposed Puppy Mill Legislation

On Monday, October 31, 2016, the Westchester County Legislation Committee met to discussed proposed legislation on the topic of puppy mill dogs and cats being sold in pet stores.  Representatives from several animal welfare organizations and concerned citizens were present at the meeting, including representatives from CLAAW. The Committee heard comments from both sides of the argument.

Arguments Against the Law:
Three people were there arguing against the law in support of the pet store industry: Gary Nudleman, owner of NY Breeder in White Plains as well as pet stores in NYC, Courtney Hogan representing the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, and Dr. Gil Stanzione, D.V.M. from Dakota Veterinary Center in White Plains.

Much of the argument against the law was based on an assumption that the federal laws and Animal Welfare Act are sufficient regulations.  For example, Courtney Hogan mentioned that she agreed with the USDA standard for dog enclosure cleaning and sanitizing being required every 2 weeks.  Dr. Gil Stanzione, D.V.M, from Dakota Veterinary Center in White Plains, agreed with Courtney Hogan.  He stated in response to the proposed Westchester County law requiring enclosures be cleaned and sanitized daily,  “In general, it’s a pretty clean place anyway; and every two weeks is, in my opinion, more than adequate.”

Arguments for a Stronger Law:
CLAAW representatives made the case that not only do the USDA standards and Animal Welfare Act set the bar too low, according to an internal USDA audit, these low standards aren’t even being met.

The USDA audit shows that inspectors weren’t always taking action against violators or repeat violators.  Additionally the inspectors were not properly documenting violations or misreporting the severity of the violations which led to less frequent inspections at facilities where animals were being neglected or worse.  The USDA audit shows pictures of animals with tick infestations, cockroach infested food sources, and severe mutilation and untreated open wounds.

Because of these facts, CLAAW argued that a law relying on USDA investigations and citations does little to help the animal victims of this horrendous industry. We, as a County, have the legal right and obligation to protect animals in our own community, and a law banning the sale of puppy mill dogs and cats in pet stores will do just that.  That is why 6 municipalities in Westchester County have already passed puppy mill legislation with more on the way.

Help convince Westchester to pass a stronger law: sign our petition requesting Westchester ban the sale of puppy mill dogs and cats in pet stores:  Sign this Petition.

Posted in animal rights, Cats, Dogs, Kitten Mills, NY, puppy mills, Westchester County | Leave a comment

Online Petition to Pass Puppy Mill Ban Legislation Countywide in Westchester!


After a series of legislative victories in municipalities around Westchester County, NY, we’ve got a new online petition up at change.org to get Westchester County to pass a similar law to the one in Mamaroneck, Rye Brook, Mt Pleasant and most recently, Port Chester, NY. Please sign this petition to stop puppy mills from doing business in Westchester County, NY.

Posted in animal rights, Cats, Dogs, Kitten Mills, NY, puppy mills, Westchester County | Leave a comment

Port Chester, NY unanimously passes law banning the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores!

Based on a campaign organized by CLAAW, on October 5, 2016 Port Chester became the 6th municipality in Westchester County, NY to pass a law regarding the sale of puppy mills dogs and cats in pet stores.  The law was initially sponsored by Trustee Bart Didden at the request of members of the Port Chester Dog Park Group.  Mayor Dennis Pilla and the rest of the Board of Trustees supported the law and it passed by a unanimous vote at the October 5th BOT meeting.  In addition to Port Chester residents and other concerned citizens urging the board to pass the law, several organizations wrote letters of support, including: NYSHA (New York State Humane Association), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and Best Friends Animal Society.

Here’s the law: port-chester-local-law-puppy-mill-ban

Posted in animal rights, Cats, Dogs, Kitten Mills, NY, puppy mills, Westchester County | Leave a comment

Public Hearing in Port Chester for Puppy Mill Ban

UPDATE: The Port Chester public hearing on the puppy mill law has been rescheduled for Oct 5. Please plan accordingly.

The Port Chester Board of Trustees has voted to schedule a Public Hearing for a new local law banning the sale of Puppy/Cat Mill animals in Pet Stores!!! Please come show your support for this important legislation.

Port Chester Board of Trustees Meeting
DATE: Tuesday, October 5, 2016
TIME: Meeting starts at 7:00
LOCATION: Port Chester Justice Court Room (350 North Main Street)

Here’s a link to directions and map on Google Maps:
In the Media:

Journal News

Posted in animal rights, Cats, Dogs, Kitten Mills, NY, puppy mills, Westchester County | Leave a comment

Port Chester Has Passed a Tether Law, Will You Work to Make Your Town Be The Next One?


At the April 18, 2016 Port Chester Board of Trustees meeting a law was unanimously passed prohibiting the tethering of animals unattended.  In addition the law restricts the time an animal can be tethered to no more than 2 hours within a 12 hour period.

Here’s the Law:

In the Media:
Journal News
Port Chester Patch

Posted in animal rights, Dogs, NY, Uncategorized, Westchester County | Leave a comment