How You Can Improve Laws

Here are steps you can follow to improve the dog ordinance in your city or state:

    Educate yourself on the issue of chaining. Learn about how chaining affects dogs, and how chained dogs are a danger to the community. Familiarize yourself with laws in other communities that ban or restrict chaining.

    Research the current law in your own city or county. All animal ordinances should have a section regarding the confinement of animals. A section regulating tethering could be added to this section. Many city laws can be found on the Web site If your community's laws aren't found there, check with your local library, City Hall, or County Commission and request a copy of the animal ordinance.

    Find a model ordinance. Look at these laws from other communities across America. You can use these verbatim, or combine several ordinances to create one you think will work best for your community. If your current ordinance is weak on other dog issues, such as shelter requirements or cruelty, consider trying to update those sections, too.

    Find allies. Search your community for people who will help you in your campaign. Call your local humane society, veterinary offices (vets typically get a lot of respect from city officials), environmental groups, dog clubs, and animal rescue groups. Search the web for local animal-related listservers. Send an email to everyone you know to interest people in the issue and ask for support. You could even run a small ad in the paper saying something like, "Tired of seeing chained, neglected dogs? Call *** to help campaign for a better animal ordinance in our city"

    Know your opposition. Think about who in your community might oppose your campaign. Hunters (who often keep hunting dogs chained or in small pens), low-end breeders, or sled dog groups. Note: in Little Rock we passed our ordinance with no opposition from the community.

    Introduce your ordinance. Go to a City Director of County Commissioner who is friendly to animal issues, or go to your own representative. Meet with your Animal Services Director to get his/her input. Your City Attorney may also be helpful in explaining how laws are passed in your community.

    You may download this generic PowerPoint slide show to edit and use in presentations.

    When you meet with people, present:

      Information on why chaining is cruel to dogs and dangerous to humans, especially children.

      Photos of chained dogs. Photos speak a thousand words. You can use the photos on this site or take photos in your own community. Your Animal Services department may have photos from their cruelty files you can use.

      Sample legislation from other cities or a list of other cities that regulate chaining.

    IMPORTANT: When you talk with your legislator, be sure and stress the danger that chained dogs pose to people. You can print news stories and statements from the CDC, AVMA, and USDA on the link between chaining and aggression. Chained dogs usually become very territorial and aggressive, and when they get loose are likely to injure people. Chained dogs are also most likely unvaccinated and unlicensed.

    Stress that an ordinance addressing chaining is a powerful tool for Animal Services Officers to have. In every city there are repeat offenders who always have neglected dogs in their backyard, but the dogs aren't neglected enough for an ACO to bring cruelty charges. An anti-chaining ordinance will give ACOs the ability to cite these repeat offenders and end the cycle of neglect. After our ordinance passed in  Little Rock, people who had had chained and neglected their dogs for years finally gave up their dogs. For the first time in years, their yards are  empty of hungry, flea-bitten, chained dogs who were a constant source of worry to the neighborhood.

    A chaining ban also helps crack down on dogfighters. It can be hard to bust a dogfight, but many dogfighters do keep their dogs continually chained.

    Contact cities who have enacted chaining regulations or read Heather Carpenter's or Dianne Lawrence's interviews with animal control employees in these communities.

    Lobbying: Once you have a sponsor (or even if you don't have a sponsor), lobby the other commissioners. Provide informational packets to all of them. Mobilize your supporters to contact their commissioners. Try to find people in each ward/district to contact that ward's commissioner. Send lots of letters to your local newspaper. You can write several letters yourself and ask your friends to put their names on them send them in. You can also ask national organizations to write letters for you. However, be warned that sometimes communities resent "outside interference."

    Public Hearings: Most City Board meetings have a time in their meetings when citizens can make comments. Sometimes hearings are planned where citizens can speak out on a specific issue. Take advantage of this. Get dog bite victims, animal welfare activists, vets, dog trainers, K9 police officers, or just regular folks to speak on behalf of the ordinance.

    The Vote: In the days before the vote, get as many phone calls, faxes and emails to them as possible. Make sure they know the majority of people want this law to help dogs. Remind them that at the end of every leash (dog-walkers, that is) is a vote.

Remember that your city/county legislators work for YOU! You are paying their salaries and they have an obligation to listen to you. To pass a new law requires persistence and courage. You will probably be told time and again to forget about your idea. So keep at it!

If you have trouble downloading the PowerPoint program, e-mail us with your mailing address we can can send you a copy on CD:
:UnchainYourDog   AT  yahoo DOT com
(edited to stop spammers from picking up this address.)

Thanks to Heather Carpenter for much of the above information. Read more information about changing laws on

Join a list serve with other folks who are concerned about chained dogs and working to change laws by e-mailing:
HelpChainedDogs-subscribe AT yahoogroups DOT com
(edited to stop spammers from picking up this address.)

Passing a new law is the very BEST way to help the ALL dogs in your community!