Dogs Unchained: Animal cruelty bill could ban heavy, 'inhumane' tethering

Dogs Unchained: Animal cruelty bill could ban heavy, 'inhumane' tethering

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Animal lovers, activists, and pet owners are uniting to end chain tethering dogs in South Carolina. A bill in the State House passed the Senate this week, and heads to House committees.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen's (D-Kershaw) bill defines that to mean tethering that:

  • Causes injury or illness to the dog as determined by a veterinarian
  • Utilizes a tether that exceeds one-eighth of the body weight of the dog;
  • Utilizes a tether that is too short for an unattended dog to move around or for the dog to urinate or defecate in a separate area from the area where it must eat, drink, or lie down; or
  • Does not permit the dog access to adequate food, adequate water, shade, or shelter.
  • 'Unattended' means beyond the visual sight of the owner, handler, or caretaker.
  • 'Tether' means to confine a dog by attaching it to a stationary object by means of a chain, rope, cable, trolley, running line, or similar device.

There are some municipalities across the state that have their own tethering ordinances. However, this bill would make it a misdemeanor statewide to violate the cruel tethering standards it lays out. That would mean prison for 90 days and/or a fine from $100 to $1,000 for the first offense.

"This bill is aimed at stopping the cruel practice of tethering animals with heavy chains, spiked or choke collars, and ensuring that adequate food and water is provided to pets," Sheheen said. "Cruelty has no place in South Carolina."

Robin Mitchell, with Saving the Chain Dogs in Aiken County, has made it her mission to unchain dogs and back this bill.

Mitchell says she's collected chains from multiple dogs, some nearly 70 pounds, around a 40-pound dog's neck.

Pawmetto Lifeline in Columbia has a program pet owners can apply for, to try to keep pets off chains. Unchain Midlands has volunteers build and repair fences. To learn more, click here.

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