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Position Statement on Tethering of Dogs

The BC SPCA strongly opposes the indiscriminate chaining, or other methods of tethering dogs, without due regard for their physical and/or psychological well-being.

The Society insists that, if dogs are to be tethered, the methods and equipment used must be humane and must not be likely to cause the animals any physical or mental harm.

Approved by the Board of Directors – December 1982

Background

Tethering significantly limits the ability of dogs to experience the Five Freedoms. Dogs who are tethered outdoors for the majority of their lives are at risk for physical harm, neglect and health problems. Some examples of this include water becoming frozen, being attacked by wildlife or other dogs, getting entangled in the tether and being forced to defecate and sleep in the same space.

Research has demonstrated that dogs raised and housed under conditions of social and environmental restriction, such as those left alone in a backyard for the entirety of their lives, tend to become excitable and reactive, demonstrating fear and/or aggression in response to environmental change.

Furthermore, tethered dogs frequently develop other behavioural issues. When isolated with limited human companionship, even friendly dogs may become bored and frustrated, leading to excessive barking, running away, aggression or depression. Anxious and fearful dogs who have no way to escape from approaching people or animals may resort to lunging, snapping or biting to protect themselves.

To this end, the BC SPCA advocates for municipalities to adopt bylaws that ensure tethered dogs are provided with the Five Freedoms. The BC SPCA recommends the following in the 2015 Model Bylaw:

No person may cause, permit, or allow an animal:

  • to be hitched, tied, or fastened to a fixed object in such a way that the animal is able to leave the boundaries of the Responsible Person’s property; or
  • to be hitched, tied, or fastened to a fixed object where a choke collar forms part of the securing apparatus, or where a rope or cord is tied directly around the animal’s neck; or be tethered other than with a collar that is properly fitted to that dog and attached in a manner that will not injure the animal or enable the animal to injure itself by pulling on the tether; or
  • to be hitched, tied, or fastened to a fixed object except with a tether of sufficient length to enable the full and unrestricted movement of the animal; or
  • to be hitched, tied, or fastened to a fixed object unattended at any time; or
  • to be hitched, tied, or fastened to a fixed object for longer than four (4) hours in within a 24 hour period; or
  • to be hitched, tied or fastened to a fixed object as the primary means of confinement for an extended period of time.

Background updated – June 2015

Definitions

Five Freedoms: A concept first developed in 1965 by The Brambell Committee, formed by the UK government to examine the conditions on commercial farms. Now internationally recognized, the Five Freedoms are considered applicable to all animals.

The BC SPCA’s Five Freedoms (adapted from the original list) are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst;
  2. Freedom from pain, injury and disease;
  3. Freedom from distress;
  4. Freedom from discomfort;
  5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being.

The BC SPCA’s Five Freedoms form the basis of the Society’s Charter and describe conditions that must be fulfilled in order to prevent the suffering of all animals in human care. The Society acknowledges that these freedoms are not enforceable and that absolute provision of these freedoms may not be possible, but strongly encourages all animal guardians to strive to provide them.