Local lawmakers push Ohio dog tethering laws

Dog in snow


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio animal owners who leave their pets tethered outside in extreme hot or cold temperatures for extended periods of time could face jail time or a hefty fine under the regulations of House Bill 94.

Lawmakers proposed House Bill 94 last March. It includes 10 conditions that animal owners must follow if their dog is tethered outside.

The big one — animals may not be tethered outdoors if there is a heat or cold advisory or a severe weather warning. It would also be illegal to tether an animal overnight, if someone isn’t home, or for more than six consecutive hours in a 24-hour period.

“If you want to be a pet owner, you need to be a responsible pet owner. This will really bring it home. There will be fines. Violators will have to pay a fine, as much as $1,000,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown.

Violators would be fined on a first offense, and the fines would increase to as much as $1,000. Owners could possibly jail time for multiple offenses — or if the animal is sick or injured because of the owner’s actions.

The bill is still waiting for approval at the Ohio Statehouse, but Lepore-Hagan is hopeful that it may be on the governor’s desk ready for approval by the end of 2016.

Youngstown City Council passed a similar ordinance for the City of Youngstown last February. The ordinance has 11 conditions that animal owners must follow if their pet is tethered outside — with the hopes that people will think twice about the responsibility that comes with owning a dog.

“The tethering law prohibits anyone in the City of Youngstown from housing a dog outside on a leash, or tether, or a chain or rope,” said Mahoning County Dog Warden Dianne Fry.

The ordinance does not make specifications for weather conditions, but agents with the Dog Warden’s Office keeps their eyes out for animals during the colder months.

“If there is a weather advisory up, and it is that frigid cold, and it becomes a situation where it becomes a humane situation, we will address our part of it,” Fry said. “We always give them the information about tethering and then will call the humane agents in.”

Fry said when the ordinance was first introduced, the Mahoning County Dog Warden wanted to make residents aware of the new regulations, but heading into this winter, they will be issuing citations.

“It’s so frigid, and they can’t keep hydrated, because their water is frozen,” Fry said. “They may or may not have food. When everything is cold, and they may not have adequate shelter, it’s very dangerous.”

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