Dog tethering, chaining ordinance creates confusion in York County

A dog dilemma has led to some barking and bickering in York County, S.C.

The issue over how dogs should be restrained, specifically the use of chains, has upset animal rights activists and raised new questions about an old law. 

"We want them to do what's right," said Mary Beth Knapp with the Humane Society of York County. "And please stand up for the innocent."

Knapp believes the 2012 ordinance on tethering (Title V, Chapter 55, Section 19; 55.19) makes chaining dogs illegal. The ordinance bans chain collars but does not mention chaining dogs. It states dogs can be tethered outdoors "as a primary means of restraint" when an adult is present with the animal. The tether must be 10 feet in length and allow 360 degrees of movement and access to food, water and shelter. A trolley cable line can be used as a primary method of restraint, if it falls under the same conditions. 

"A dog chained turns into a dog potentially fought turns into a community effect," said Knapp. "What does dog fighting bring? It brings guns, It brings gambling. It brings negativity into our area, and we don't want it."

She's not against tethers, in general, but says chaining is cruel.

"It causes them to become aggressive," she said. "It causes them to be isolated."

Councilman William "Bump" Roddey disagrees. He says the council intended in 2012 for chaining to be legal. Since the ordinance is unclear as written, it's now being given a second look.

"People have said that chaining is inhumane," said Roddey. "I say chaining is one of those things that's necessary when you have an animal that you're concerned about that may cause bodily harm to someone."

Roddey thinks it should be the owner's decision. He says Animal Control should "not enforce tethering on a chain" violations. 

FOX 46 wanted to know how York County Animal Control interprets the ordinance and if they have ever cited pet owners for using chains. Animal Control referred us to the county manager's office. A receptionist said officials were in meetings. Our request for comment went unanswered.

Meanwhile, animal rights activists pledge to speak out at the next council meeting calling for clarification to the law.

"If there's a loophole," said Knapp, "we want to close that loophole."