Anti-dog chaining activists head to Capitol with dog houses in tow

Last year, she tied herself to a dog house on the Capitol steps for 52 days in the hopes of winning passage of a banning 24/7 chaining.

But Tamira Thayne and her supporters (and the legislature) went home last fall with no bill.

Now Thayne, founder of Dogs Deserve Better , is coming back and she's bringing some friends - at last 35 of them at last count.

They plan to tether themselves to dog houses for 10 hours Monday beginning at 8 a.m. to rally support for two bills pending in the legislature that will make it crime to leave a dog outside after 10 p.m. (Potty breaks excluded)

The event is part of the annual Dogs Deserve Better "Chain Off" being held at sites nationwide to call attention to the plight of dogs - and there are thousands in Pennsylvania - who spend their lives on chains.

The event (on the rear steps of the Capitol) is BYODH. (Bring Your Own Dog House)

Thayne - who made national news last month when her group closed the deal to buy Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennel property in southern Virginia - also will celebrate the publication of her new book Capitol in Chains about her marathon protest on the Capitol steps.

"Dogs want nothing more than to be with us, their pack, and leaving them in solitary confinement is damaging to both the dog and the caring neighbors who are forced to witness the neglect," said Thayne. "I never realized how few perfect weather days we have until I lived my life out there like a dog; the amount of empathy I have for their condition has only risen, and I am more determined than ever to win better laws on their behalf."

At least 13 states have outlawed round-the-clock dog chaining - along with dozens of municipalities - and animal welfare activists are wondering why, after trying for at least three sessions, no bill has come out of the PA legislature.

The Pennsylvania legislation now has a 15 minute "potty provision" or Starbucks exemption, as some call it. There was great hue-and-cry last session from some dog owners who feared they could be cited for putting their dog out to go to the bathroom after 10 p.m. or tying them up at a outdoor cafe.

[Somehow we doubt the relative handful of humane agents combing the countrysides of Pennsylvania would descend on someone enjoying a latte at the local Starbucks with their dog at their feet tied to a railing.]

There are two bills pending. Sens. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester) and Rich Alloway (R., Franklin) have introduced a bill (SB 072) that would prohibit chaining overnight (10 p.m. to 6 a.m. hours) in the Senate. Rep. Mario Scavello (R., Monroe) has a similar measure in the House (HB 626).

The Animal Law Coalition posted this bill summary:

H.B. 826/S.B. 972 introduced by Rep. Mario M. Scavello in the House of Representatives and Sen. Richard L. Alloway in the state Senate, would also require people keeping dogs toplace or attach the tether so that the dog cannot become entangled with other objects; allow the dog to roam the full range of the tether.

The tether must be of a type commonly used for the size of dog involved. No tow chain may be used; attach the tether to the dog by means of a well-fitted collar or body harness that will not cause trauma or injury to the dog. No choke, pinch, prong or other chain collar may be used; use a tether that is a minimum of six feet long or at least five times the length of the dog as measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail, whichever is longer, and must allow the dog convenient and unfettered access to shelter and food and water containers.

The tether may not become wrapped around an appendage such that it restricts the dog's movement; provide the dog with protection from the direct rays of the sun, and at least one area of shade other than the shelter must be provided; make sure the tethered dog has no open sores or wounds; not tether the dog outside during periods of extreme weather such as periods of unusually cold or hot temperatures, or when a weather advisory or warning has been issued. (It is not clear what is meant by "unusually cold or hot temperatures" or how that would be determined.)

There would be exceptions from these requirements: (1) tethering a dog for a period not to exceed 15 minutes as long as the dog is not in danger or a nuisance or does not put the public in danger;

(2) Tethering a dog while actively engaged in or actively training for an activity that is conducted pursuant to a valid license like hunting;

(3) Tethering a dog that is "used in the course of commercial agricultural production or is used for the protection of commercial farm property, agricultural supplies or products";

(4) Tethering a dog "while actively participating in or attending an organized dog show, field trial, agility event, herding contest or other similar exposition or event, of a limited duration, that involves the judging or evaluation of dogs";

(5) Tethering a dog "being raised, trained or utilized for sled racing so long as the dog is regularly untethered for exercise and training"; or

(6) Tethering a dog pursuant to the requirements of a camping or recreational area.

A person found in violation could be required to forfeit the dog.

The bill also requires all people keeping dogs to provide "potable" water.


H.B. 826 is pending in the Judiciary Committee. Find members here. (Click on their names for contact info.)

The Senate version, S.B. 972, is pending the senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.