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Dog Tethering Restrictions

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Chapel Hill residents may not tie their dogs outside with any type of chain or runner.

The Town of Chapel Hill's tethering rules took effect on March 23, 2010, one year after being enacted by the Town Council. Chapel Hill residents will no longer be able to tie their dog outside with any type of chain or runner.

Tethering refers to the keeping of dogs on chains, ropes or other such tie-outs versus within a fenced structure. It is often defined in reference to a stationary object (for example, a dog chained to a stake near a dog house), but also includes overhead trolley systems.
Tethering does not refer to walking a dog on a leash.

Warnings will be given for the first three months of effectiveness for dog owners not in compliance, beginning March 24, 2010. When the law becomes fully enforceable on June 23, 2010, Chapel Hill residents will become subject to fines or even criminal charges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Effective March 23, 2010, Chapel Hill's Animal Ordinance restricts the tethering of dogs. The Town Council approved the amendment, along with a year of outreach, in March of 2009.

What is tethering?

Tethering refers to the keeping of dogs on chains, ropes or other such tie-outs versus within a fenced structure. It is often defined in reference to a stationary object (for example, a dog chained to a stake near a dog house), but also includes overhead trolley systems. Tethering does not refer to walking a dog on a leash.

Are there exceptions?

There are no exceptions to the rules, although tethering for a period not to exceed seven days is permitted while actively engaged in the following:

  • Shepherding or herding livestock 
  • Lawful dog activities such as hunting training and hunting sporting events, field and obedience training, field or water training, law enforcement training, veterinary treatment and/or the pursuit of working or competing in these legal endeavors 
  • Meeting the requirements of a camping or recreational area

When participating in exempt activities or when a dog is on an attended leash, tethered dogs must be tethered in a manner that does not cause unjustifiable pain, suffering, or risk or death. Tethers must be made of rope, twine, cord, or similar material with a swivel on one end or a chain that is at least 10 feet in length with swivels on both ends and which does not exceed 10 percent of the dog’s body weight. All collars or harnesses used for the purpose of tethering a dog must be made of nylon or leather.

How long do people who currently tether have to make changes?

The amendment was adopted on March 23, 2009, and includes a year-long period of public outreach and education before becoming effective on March 23, 2010. Moreover, only warnings will be issued for the first three months of effectiveness (from March 23, 2010 to June 23, 2010).

Only after this 15-month outreach and warning period will the amendment be fully enforced. This is intended to give citizens ample time to become informed and make changes to comply with the new law.

Will the ordinance changes affect me if I live outside a township in Orange County?

Residents who live outside the town limits of Chapel Hill will not be affected by the Town's ordinance. The County has a separate animal ordinance that applies to the unincorporated areas of the County, as well as Hillsborough, which adopts the County's ordinance. For more information on the Orange County rules on the tethering of dogs, visit www.co.orange.nc.us/animalservices/tethering.asp

Resources

What resources are available for those wanting to switch from tethering to another means of confinement?

There are several other means of confinement available to those wanting to switch from tethering. Residents may switch to a pen/kennel enclosure; construct a fence; or choose to house their dog(s) indoors.

Supplies for outdoor enclosures can be purchased at most hardware stores and many indoor confinement methods can be obtained at pet stores. The Coalition to Unchain Dogs offers a program to assist with fence building. Details can be found on their www.unchaindogs.net or by contacting 919-308-3660 or ssnss4@yahoo.com. Information about local dog training opportunities can be found by consulting with a veterinarian, checking yellow page listings, or conducting an online search.

Background

Why did the Town Council consider tethering restrictions?

The Town Council was approached by citizens concerned about the welfare of tethered dogs. Their efforts mirrored initiatives elsewhere in North Carolina and other states to limit, restrict or outlaw tethering.

Council memoranda on this issue are online:
townhall.townofchapelhill.org/agendas/2009/03/23/6a/6a-memo-dog_tethering.htm   
and
townhall.townofchapelhill.org/agendas/2009/02/16/2/2-memo-dog_tethering.htm.

For more information, see the Ordinance on Restraint of Dogs

Why tethering? Can't dogs be neglected and abused in yards/kennels as well?

While it is true that dogs can be neglected in any situation, tethering raises additional community concerns. The lack of a barrier between the dog and outside world raises the risk of dogs bites, makes some dogs vulnerable to unwanted breeding (contributing to pet overpopulation) and attack by roaming dogs or other animals.

Where can I find additional information and copies of background documents?

The ordinance is available online. Also available are other supporting documents. Questions can may be directed to Orange County Animal Services at 919-942-PETS (7387).

News

01/27/2010 Chapel Hill's Tethering Law to Take Effect This Year
03/23/2009 Council Meeting Summary: Dog Tethering Ordinance

Dog Tethering Flyer

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