Reprinted from issue # 4 Feb. 2009. Lightly edited.
Apri19dogwebWhen some people look out their window or go into their yard, they are forced to witness their neighbor's dog tied to a dog house or stake while the family is inside or away. Or maybe the dog lives isolated in the yard with little human contact other than being fed. He or she may be causing a nuisance as it barks at any movement including yours when you are in your yard. If it’s a puppy, it may constantly whine, especially in bad weather and at night. Chained or ignored, dogs isolated from human contact goes against their natural needs and instincts and is considered negligent. If constantly tethered, the dog can also become an aggressive danger.

Both California and Los Angeles have laws that make it a crime to tether (or tie) your dog up in the yard as a full-time lifestyle and it is allowed only for a specific temporary cause such as a gardener in the yard or construction.

In 2007, thanks to a handful of people including the critical efforts by the editor of this paper, Dianne V. Lawrence, the L.A. City Council outlawed unsupervised tethering (leashing)  punishable by up to 6 months in jail or longer, along with a hefty fine. If there’s evidence the dog actually suffered, was without food or water or was injured while illegally tethered, the owners can face years in jail.

A dog tied up 24/7 can suffer from the elements, become aggressive and antisocial, and pose a serious danger to children, friends or strangers if the dog escapes. Even with so-called safe tethering methods like tying the dog to a clothesline-type rope or with a body harness, they can become entangled and unable to reach their food and water, a serious matter in 90-degree weather. There have been cases where tethered dogs were ignored for long periods of time and the owners came out to find the dog had strangled itself to death.

Another serious consequence of tethering or isolating dogs to backyard life is the cruel emotional impact it has on the dog.   Every dog has been bred for a purpose and activity. Although modernization in the 20th century took away the purpose of specific breeds, it hasn’t eliminated their natural instincts to bond and perform their duties.  They are family-loving beings with an instinctive need to be an active part of a family/pack where they both receive and give love and attention, provide safety and play, along with the need to act out the qualities bred into them. If it’s a retriever, chasing something and bringing it back is essential to its well-being.

A dog tied up on a regular basis or isolated from pack contact and instinctive activity is like a child kept in a locked room with no toys.  It will either become aggressive or resigned, depressed and desperate for company.

Contrary to the myths, tethered/outdoor dogs are not good watchdogs. They tend to bark at everything, and owners and neighbors often learn to ignore the barks. Dogs left in yards to deter break-ins are easily let out of unlocked gates or given poison by a determined intruder.  Even worse…they are often stolen as bait for dog-fight training or by thieves waiting for the reward signs. The most effective protection is an inside dog which will go crazy over anyone trying to come in a window or a door, where the intruder doesn’t know the extent of damage the dog might do and can’t get to the dog to do damage.

So if you know of a dog in your neighborhood that is chained or tethered for more than a short period for a specific temporary purpose or has inadequate shelter or water and food, or a fece’s-filled yard (also against the law) - for the sake of the dog, call L.A. City Animal Services and report it (see end of article for contact info).

Your name will be kept confidential. Animal Regulation Services will give the owners time to comply, and in most cases a little education is all it takes. But while our goal is to educate and help people be responsible for their pets, make no mistake about it…if someone is intent on leaving their dog continually tied up without supervision for hours or more at a time, or all day and night, or are not providing a clean environment and adequate shelter for an outdoor dog,  that person risks criminal prosecution, fines and jail time. I know …because I was a Deputy City Attorney and my job was to prosecute those crimes.  For your own peace of mind and to help a suffering animal, make the call.

Bob Ferber

Supervising Attorney (in 2009 but no longer in this position)

L.A. City Attorney Animal Protection Unit     

To report other abuse against animals, call the L.A. City Animal Cruelty Task Force at 213-847-1417 or your nearest Animal Regulation shelter.

Section 53.70 of the LAMC

F.   Confinement Requirements.  It shall be unlawful for any person to tether , fasten, chain, tie, restrain, or cause a guard dog to be fastened, chained, tied, or restrained, to houses, trees, fences, garages or other stationary objects, by means of a rope, chain, strap, or other physical restraint method, for the purpose of confinement on real property.  “Confinement,” for purposes of this section, shall mean the dog’s physical restraint to real property for more time than it is necessary for the dog owner to complete a task that requires that the dog be temporarily physically restrained to real property.  When confined to real property, the dog must be tethered by a non-choke type collar or a body harness to a tether at least three times the body length of the dog, which allows the dog access to food, water, and shelter as described above, and be free from entanglement.  This section shall not affect a person’s ability to use appropriate electronic means of confinement.  (Amended by Ord. No. 175,453, Eff. 10/26/03.)

Under State law, violations could result in an infraction or misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 per dog and/or six months in jail.



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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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