Harrisburg is the first city in Pennsylvania to outlaw the 24/7 chaining of dogs.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance to combat cruelty by requiring that dogs be outside no longer than it takes to "perform a task" - otherwise known as a potty break.
Mayor Linda Thompson is expected to sign the bill in the next week, said Councilman Brad Koplinski, the bill's sponsor.
The vote, on what is considered the toughest ordinance of its kind in the state, came two days after police shot and killed a chained dog so emaciated it was trying to eat another dog also on a chain.The second dog died while being treated for its injuries.
"Chairing is just the first concern," said Koplinski. "Abuse, mistreatment of animals, dog fighting, this is where tethering can serve as a tip off for police."
While several small municipaltiies have adopted ordinanances banning tethering, Harrisburg is the first city and with a population of 70,000, the largest municipality.
Legislation banning round-the-clock tethering has been introduced in both the state House (HB 41) and Senate (SB 522) but neither has advanced beyond committee. Efforts to tighten restrictions on dog chaining have failed in the last three legislative sessions.
Studies show dogs on chains suffer from lack of socialization and veterinary care and can become aggressive to other dogs and humans.
Five municipalities in York County - Mount Wolf Borough and Spring Garden, Springettsbury, Heidelberg and York townships - passed versions of anti-tethering ordinances, requiring residents to bring in outside dogs during severe weather and forbidding continuous tethering.
Koplinski said he hopes Harrisburg's action will push other cities and eventually the state to follow suit.
The Harriburg ordinance would limit restraint to brief, temporary periods.ban choke collars and chains thicker than an eighth of an inch for tethered dogs,require access to potable drinking water, edible food and adequate shade or shelter. Dogs would have to be inside when temperatures are below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees or if there is a severe weather warning..
Fines would start at $300, with subsequent violations carrying fines of up to $1,600 – or up to 72 hours in jail in lieu of the fine- and the possible loss of custody of the dog.
Someone convicted twice in one year would be barred from owning a dog for two years and pay an additional $1,000 fine. They also face up to 30 days in jail.
Koplinski said charges will be filed against the owner of the pit bulls that died last weekend.