York County is fast going "chain-free."
We learn that the number of municipalities in the central Pennsylvania county banning 24/7 dog chaining has grown from four to six in the past week.
West York borough and Heidelberg Township became the latest municipalities to pass ordinances limiting the length of time a dog may spend on a chain, according to the York Dispatch.
Under the current state animal cruelty laws dogs may be chained around the clock providing they have access to food water and shelter and that their tether is a certain length.
The definition of "shelter" and "access" to food and water varies widely. For instance food and water bowls can freeze easily in the winter or a dog might be exposed to extreme sun in the summer. As a result chained dog cruelty cases are often difficult to prove, humane officers say.
Studies show chained dogs get little or no socialization and are far more likely to attack a passerby and a number of children are killed each year as a result.
The law benefits everyone "whether you have an animal or not," said Shelley Metzler, the dog enforcement officer for West York. She said she's seen tethered dogs seriously hurt by dogs running loose.
Four other municipalities - Mount Wolf Borough and Springettsbury, Spring Garden and York townships - passed a similar ordinance earlier this year.
Dogs may still be kept outside under the new law, but they must be housed in a kennel with a run.
Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA, who with the Humane Society of the United States drafted the model ordinance, told the newspaper she hopes the ordinances will "keep the momentum going."
Violators will receive a warning before being cited and fined, she said.
Legislation that would ban 24/7 dog chaining statewide - as is the case in 12 other states and several dozen municipalities - has been introduced in both the House and Senate over several sessions but has stalled in committee.