Hempstead Town officials unanimously passed a new anti-tethering law Tuesday outlawing residents from leaving dogs tied up for long periods of time or abandoning them outside or in vehicles.
The new law bans leaving dogs tied up for more than two hours in any 12-hour period and also bans dogs from ever being tied up overnight.
Dogs cannot be tied up outdoors to any fixed object for longer than two hours and must be given access at all times to food, water, shelter and enough space to “do its business” away from their eating area, the law reads.
“A dog left outdoors in extreme heat, cold or other extreme weather conditions is defenseless against the elements,” Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino said in a statement. “By strengthening town laws, we are improving the quality of life for local pets and cracking down on negligent owners.”
The town reformed its existing animal control policies and adoption laws to protect animals left outside, officials said. Dog collars must be kept loose enough to fit two fingers between the dog’s neck and the collar and not restrict breathing, according to the law.
Animals cannot be left in unattended vehicles without ventilation for any time period that would endanger its health or limit access to water. Dogs cannot be left in cars while temperatures are below freezing or above 95 degrees
The town based the law on Humane Society of the United States findings that tethering can cause physical and emotional harm and that it can take 10 minutes in a locked car for the car’s internal temperature to rise 20 degrees.
Violations of the law range from $250 for the first offense to $1,500 for repeat offenders. The law also allows the town’s animal control officers to seize animals from private property in backyards or vehicles if the animal’s health and safety is at risk.
The animals will be held at the town animal shelter and a notice will be left at a home or on a vehicle where the animals can be reclaimed.
Animal welfare activist Diane Madden applauded the town’s new law, citing past instances of dogs left tied up outside during superstorm Sandy. She said the town’s law goes a step farther than state law, which does not restrict tethering.