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 www.municode.com. 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
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
- 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.
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
- 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:
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 www.DogsDeserveBetter.com
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!