ALBANY – A county legislator has introduced a bill that would limit the amount of time a dog can be left outside to two hours every 12-hour cycle, and dictates the conditions under which an owner can tie up a dog.
A second bill introduced by Legislator Bryan Clenahan, D-Guilderland, would allow civilian passersby to break into a vehicle if the person determines it is too hot or cold for the dog’s well-being.
The first, according to the bill, is necessary because “animals left tied to an object for prolonged periods often do not have sufficient food, water or shelter from inclement weather” and that “tethers, chains and other restraints may tangle or catch on other objects.”
Furthermore, “the Legislature feels that dogs left on tethers, chains and other restraints may be more aggressive and create a public safety hazard.”
Also, the legislation, which was first introduced in April, would prohibit a dog owner from tying a dog to a stationary, outdoor object if:
- The dog is less than 6 months old
- There is an active weather alert
- If it may exacerbate health conditions
- Or with other dogs if their tethers can become entangled and without an ID.
Dog owners can also not use any device to secure a dog that:
- Can pinch or choke or tighten around the dogs neck when pulled
- Restrain the dog in a way that impedes air flow
- Can be embedded in a dog’s skin
- Has weights attached or is more than a quarter-inch thick
- Weighs more than 25 percent of the dog’s weight and cannot exceed 25 pounds
- Is less than 10 feet long
- Or restrain the dog in such a way it could still wander to a spot where it could sustain injury
If the dog is tethered to a pulley system or runner the top line must be longer than 15 feet and six or less feet above the ground.
The law would be enforced by the Albany County Sheriff’s Department or any other police or peace officer or animal control officer in Albany County.
Should it become law as written, the fine for a first offense would be not more than $150, not more than $300 for a second offense and not more than $500 for a third and subsequent offenses.
Legislator Paul Burgdorf, R-Colonie, who has supported a number of animal welfare organizations, called the bill “ridiculous.”
“Ninety-nine percent of animal abuse issues are covered by Buster’s Law, I am told, so I believe there are adequate laws to enforce cruelty to pets,” he said. “No one is more concerned with animal welfare than I am. There are people who have outdoor dogs, dogs in the rural areas and dogs who thrive outside. Arbitrary time periods for dogs outside Albany County is an intrusion into the family and pet relationship.”
The second bill introduced by Clenahan would make it illegal for a person to “confine an animal in a motor vehicle in a manner that could reasonably be expected to threaten the health of the animal due to exposure to extreme heat or cold.”
The bill would indemnify any law enforcement officer from civil or criminal penalty if they determine such a risk is present and they break into the car to rescue the animal.
It would also protect an average citizen from doing the same if the person determines:
- The animal has no other means of egress
- That entry into the vehicle is necessary to prevent imminent harm to the animal
- Notifies law enforcement by calling 911
- Shall not use more force than necessary to break into the car.
- Remains with the animal until law enforcement arrives
The law, as written, would be enforced by the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and carry a penalty of no more than $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second and $500 for a third and subsequent offenses.
Clenahan could not be reached for comment.
Both pieces of legislation were approved by the Law Committee but they have not yet been approved by the Public Safety Committee so no further action, like a public hearing, has been scheduled.