October 15, 2014
By Patricia Doxsey, Daily Freeman
KINGSTON >> Two people, including the head of the Ulster County SPCA, voiced their support Wednesday for a proposed local law that would set strict regulations on how and when dogs in Ulster County can be tethered outdoors.
At a public hearing before the Ulster County Legislature, Adam Saunders, the executive director of the SPCA, said the law will allow his agency to respond to daily complaints of dozens of dogs tethered every day across the county and force people to rethink the way they care for them.
“A law such as this would almost present a cultural shift,” Saunders said.
But, he warned, the law would come with some financial consequences for the privately funded nonprofit agency.
“The volume of cases that may be coming into the local courts may be very high,” he said.
He urged county officials to consider allocating some of the fine monies collected to agencies like the SPCA, that will be forced to take in dogs removed from their owners.
Saugerties resident Rebecca Thompson also urged legislators to enact the law, saying a neighbor kept as many as six dogs tied up outside for days, and the only thing law enforcement officials could do was cite him on a noise complaint.
The dogs, she said, are outside all the time. “The dogs never get walked, they never get played with, they never go in the house.
“It’s really quite sad,” said Thompson.
If adopted, the law would outlaw the use of choke or pinch collars on dogs that are tethered outdoors and would require that dog leads be at least 10 feet long, or five times the length of the dog, whichever is greater.
It would be illegal under the proposal to tether puppies under the age of six months outdoors, and all other dogs could be tethered for no more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period.
The law would prohibit dogs from being tethered outdoors if the temperature drops below 32 degrees or rises above 80 degrees, or in the event of thunderstorms, ice storms, snowstorms, high winds or any National Weather Service-issued weather alert or storm warning.
A proposed amendment to the law would exempt owners who tether their dogs for less than 15 minutes in public locations. If the law is approved in legislative committees, a public hearing on the amended law would have to be held before lawmakers can vote on it.