North Hempstead adding bite to tethered dogs law

North Hempstead adding bite to tethered dogs law
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, pictured here with North Hempstead Animal Shelter Director Jenna Givargidze, pets Royal, a dog at the North Hempstead Animal Shelter. (Video still from Town of North Hempstead YouTube)

The Town of North Hempstead is eyeing stronger protections for tethered dogs, with council members slated to take up an amended measure on June 18.

Amendments to the town code were first raised at a Town Board meeting on April 30. Town council members ultimately held off on a public hearing, however, in order to strengthen the proposal following “other ideas” being “brought to their attention.”

“It’s our goal to create a law that ensures that dogs in the Town of North Hempstead are treated humanely,” Bosworth said at the time. “The law will include, among other things, regulations regulating the amount of time a dog can be tethered and prohibiting a dog from being tethered in extreme temperatures and weather events.”

Specifically, the law would bar owners from tethering their dogs outside when the weather is below 32 degrees, above 90 degrees, a heat or wind chill advisory has been issued by the National Weather Service, or if conditions are “not appropriate due to the breed, physical condition and climate.”

Dogs can also not be tethered to a stationary object outdoors for more than one continuous hour during a 12-hour period between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Additionally, it would be unlawful for a dog to be restrained in a way where it cannot access food, fresh and potable water and dry ground, does not provide appropriate shelter and “unreasonably limits the movement of such dog.”

Under the law, the device used to tether the dog could not be a collar that might become “embedded” in the dog’s skin or impair its breathing.

Town code currently states it is illegal for a dog to be on public or private property without the owner’s consent “unless the dog is effectively restrained in the immediate custody and control of its owner or possessor by a chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length.”

Susan Carroll, a Great Neck resident who raised the tethering issue with the town, said her push began with a barking issue with a neighbor’s dog. But the barking continued as the weather got colder, she said, and she realized the dog was outside more often than not.

Carroll said she contacted the Nassau County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which conducted an investigation – the results of which are confidential.

“What they did say is that their investigation showed that the owners are not technically violating any current laws in the town,” Carroll recalled.

At that point she began research into laws in other municipalities like the Town of Hempstead and Suffolk County, before contacting Bosworth and other officials, she said.

A town spokeswoman said that officials are still working out the finer details of the law, including punishments for offenders, but that a finalized law should be ready by the June 18 Town Board meeting.

While the amendments are in the process of being strengthened, Carroll said she imagines North Hempstead’s new laws will have penalties like fines, which will discourage owners from keeping their dogs outside.

“I can’t speculate on why these laws were not in place before, but hopefully in June there will be another layer of protection for these animals and that’s all I’m looking for,” Carroll said, “so the Nassau County SPCA has more tools in their tool belt to deal with this problem.”

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