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N. Hempstead Town toughens laws for pet owners who leave dogs tethered outside

North Hempstead Town began reshaping its dog tether

North Hempstead Town began reshaping its dog tether law after a Great Neck resident expressed concern about a neighbor's dog. Credit: Howard Schnapp

North Hempstead Town has revamped its law governing dogs being tethered outside, and council members plan to approve the stricter guidelines in June.

Town officials released proposed changes to the tether law during a town council meeting Tuesday. Supervisor Judi Bosworth said during the session that she and the council will postpone their vote until their June 18 meeting. 

"Some new ideas have been brought to our attention to make an even stronger law," Bosworth said. 

The proposed changes outline when, how and where dog owners can leash canines. They cannot “tether, leash, fasten, secure, restrain, chain or tie a dog” in a manner that keeps the animal away from fresh food, potable water and dry ground, the amendment states. Dog owners cannot leash their pet outdoors if the temperature is below 32 degrees, above 90 degrees, or if the National Weather Service has issued a heat or wind chill advisory.

The amendment also states that dog owners cannot keep their pet leashed outside for more than one continuous hour within a 12-hour period between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. A dog cannot be leashed outside at all between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the amendment states.

Town officials are still considering penalties for violators. It is not yet clear which agency will enforce the law.

Passing a dog tether law will give animal cruelty officers a tangible penalty to impose on people who create unsafe environments for their dog, said Gary Rogers, a detective for the Nassau County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

Rogers said people sometimes think dog owners don't need rules for tethering their pets outside because dogs have fur to help them regulate their body temperature. Dogs can still get frostbite or hypothermia in the winter or suffer from heat stroke in the summer, Rogers said. 

"In the wild, they can find places to get out of the weather," said Rogers, who is also the group's president. "In a backyard, they can't — especially while being tethered." 

North Hempstead Town began reshaping its law after Susan Carroll, a Great Neck resident, contacted Bosworth  about ways to protect dogs during extremely hot or cold weather.

Carroll said she began pushing for a change last fall when someone moved onto her street and brought a large dog that barked excessively.

“One time the dog was barking at 2 a.m.,” said Carroll, who is not a pet owner. “It was a one-time incident, but it did wake me up.”

Carroll said the barking bothered her so much that she eventually noticed that the dog was almost always outside, even as the fall transitioned into colder winter months. Carroll said she felt sorry for the animal and called the Nassau County SPCA. She said the agency investigated and found that the owners had not violated any town law because the dog had an outdoor home that was insulated.

Carroll said the Nassau SPCA told her about North Hempstead’s dog tethering law and that other municipalities on Long Island — specifically Hempstead Town and Suffolk County — have stricter rules, prompting her to contact North Hempstead Town.

Carroll said she hopes the law is in place in time for the summer months.

"I don’t ever want to be told by the Nassau ASPCA again that ‘there’s nothing more we can do because of the current laws’,” she said.

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