Require humane treatment of dogs in Gaston County

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Dogs in Gaston County, North Carolina, are unnecessarily suffering from heavy, restrictive chains and lack of adequate shelter because there are currently NO laws restricting these behaviors in the county. Concerned residents have partnered with Project Safe Pet to petition Gaston County Commissioners to ban these practices, which pose serious threats to a dog's physical and psychological well-being. Many municipalities across North Carolina have already passed similar laws.

Why is tethering bad for dogs? 
Dogs are naturally social beings who need interaction with humans and/or other animals. Intensive confinement or long-term restraint can severely damage their physical and psychological well-being. An otherwise friendly dog, when kept intensively confined in any way, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.

Dogs also endure physical ailments as a result of being continuously chained. Their necks can become raw and sore and their collars can grow into their skin. They are at high risk of entanglement, strangulation and harassment or attacks by other dogs or people.

Tethered dogs may also suffer from irregular feedings, overturned water bowls, inadequate veterinary care and extreme temperatures. During snowstorms, these dogs often have no access to shelter. During periods of extreme heat, they may not receive adequate water or protection from the sun. Owners who chain their dogs are less likely to clean the area of confinement, causing the dogs to eat and sleep in an area contaminated with urine and feces. What's more, because their often neurotic behavior makes them difficult to approach, chained dogs are rarely given even minimal affection. Tethered dogs may become "part of the scenery" and can be easily ignored by their owners. (Credit: humanesociety.org)

We are asking commissioners to require the following for Gaston County's dogs:

SHELTER:

(1) An enclosed weather-proof structure sufficient in size for the dog to stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably, free from urine and fecal matter.

(2) The shelter must be leveled and elevated off of the ground to keep water, snow, or ice from entering

(3) Examples of unacceptable shelter include, but are not limited to: underneath or inside motor vehicles; garbage cans; cardboard boxes; plastic or metal barrels; animal transport crates or carriers; or under outside steps, structures, decks, or stoops.

(4) The shelter must have non-absorbent insulation, such as shavings or straw, between November 1- March 1. From May 1 –September 30, a dog’s environment must have access to natural or artificial shade to cover the animal; a doghouse is not considered shade.

(5) A clean and sanitary living environment for the dog, as well as the area adjacent to where the dog is kept, must be maintained.

(6) A living environment that is dry without water accumulation, mud, and moisture.

RESTRAINT:

Tethering systems, fences, enclosures, and containment systems must meet the following criteria:

(1) The tether must be at least 15 feet in length.

(2) The weight of the tether must not exceed ten percent of the weight of the dog’s body weight.

(3) The tether must have swivels on both ends and allow the dog to have the highest degree of movement practicable without becoming entangled, with 360 degrees of unobstructed space, using a single stake system with a swivel on top to allow the dog free movement. A secondary option is to have the dog’s tether attached to a trolley system that is no less then 20 feet in length and no less then 5 feet in height above the ground.

(4) The tether must be free from debris, and objects, that could cause tangling strangulation or prohibit the dog access to water, food, and shelter.

(5) The tether must allow the dog to lie down in a natural position in his or her shelter.

(6) The tether must be attached to a properly fitting collar or harness.

(7) The use of training collars such as choke, pinch or chain directly around the dog’s neck are prohibited for primary use when the dog is unsupervised.

(8) Dogs under six months of age or that are sick or in distress are prohibited from being tethered.

(9) If more than one dog is tethered in the same area they must be separated to prevent entanglement.

(10) Dogs are not to be tethered to abandoned buildings or other objects not on the owner’s property.

(11) A female dog in heat cannot be tethered and must be confined within a building, secure enclosure or otherwise protected from other dogs.

(12) Enclosures must be no less than 100 square feet per dog of sanitary unobstructed space.

(13) Enclosures cannot be covered on all sides preventing ventilation and obstructing a dog's sight.

Thank you for asking for these basic protections for Gaston County's dogs!