By Jessica Ablamsky
|A dog’s life should not be spent chained up all day, according to the City Council. |
Pay attention, dog owners.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently signed into law two bills that will fundamentally improve the lives of animals in New York City, and change the way outdoor dogs are treated.
Legislation introduced by Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. (D-Astoria) makes it illegal to restrain dogs outdoors for longer than three hours in a continuous 12-hour period of time. Repeat violations within one year carry fines of up to $500 and three months in prison.
When the law takes effect on May 1, dogs restrained outdoors for less than three hours will need adequate food, water and shelter.
It will also be illegal to restrain a dog for any amount of time with a device that is a choke or pinch collar; has weights attached or links that are more than one-quarter inch thick; is likely to become entangled; is long enough to allow movement off the owner’s property; or could allow the animal to move over an object or edge that could result in strangulation or injury to the animal.
Chaining as a way of life is something that exists for too many dogs, said Vallone, a lifelong animal rights activist.
“It’s a cruel way of treating an animal,” he said. “If you see something like this, we will be able to do something about it before the animal is injured. It was never okay to injure an animal, but we had to wait until a chain grew into an animal’s neck. That unfortunately happens.”
Enforcement will be provided by the NYPD and ASPCA.
Dogs tethered as a way of life can be more aggressive due to their constant confinement, lack of interaction with humans and inability to escape from perceived threats.
“The flight or fight response; you are eliminating the flight option,” said Michelle Villagomez, a spokeswoman for the ASPCA.
To a dog, a tether can demarcate a territory line, of which the dog can become very protective. When somebody enters that area, the dog can react aggressively.
Tethering also exposes that animal to injury from other animals, the tether itself and New York City’s extreme weather conditions.
Taking effect immediately is a law that raises the licensing fee for unfixed dogs from $11.50 to $34. Every dog in New York City must be licensed annually.
The $25 surcharge goes into a special account to fund the City’s Animal Care and Control program, which operates the municipal animal shelter system.
“It really does have the potential to bring in a lot of revenue,” Villagomez said. “If we could really increase compliance, we could bring in millions of dollars.”
In addition to licensing being the law, benefits include admission to City dog runs, and the tag itself, which serves as a tracking mechanism for lost pets via the tracking number.
After the tethering law takes effect May 1, to report instances of illegal tethering, call 311 or the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement at (212) 876-7700, Ext. 4450.
To license your dog, call 311 or go to nyc.org/health.
For more information about low cost or free spay and neutering from the ASPCA, call (877) SPAY-NYC, or go to their web site at aspca.org/aspca-nyc/mobileclinic.
Reach Reporter Jessica Ablamsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 357-7400, Ext.