Carney inks bill protecting dogs from tethering, severe weather

WILMINGTON — It doesn’t matter who let the dogs out — there are now limits to how long they can stay outside tied up.

Gov. John Carney signed SB 139 into law on Wednesday to protect dogs in Delaware from long-term tethering and severe weather. The signing took place at Carousel Park in Wilmington with many animal advocates in attendance.

Specifically, the law limits tethering to two hours when the owner is not home and nine consecutive hours in a 24-hour period when someone is on the property.

For housing, the bill prohibits wire-only flooring, requires access to food and water in a manner not subject to freezing, and sets the following parameters for the shelter itself: raised off the ground, moisture- and wind-proof, capable of preserving heat and having a flap over the entrance from Nov. 1 to March 31 or when temperatures drop below 35 degrees.

Finally, the bill requires dogs to be on a leash unless they are on their own property, on other private property with permission, at a dog park, or fall into specific working dog exemptions.

Adam Lamb, CEO of Brandywine Valley SPCA, applauded the law signed by Gov. Carney.

“This important bill had stalled due to the diverse interests across the state,” Mr. Lamb said. “We invested in the expertise and time to bring the parties to common ground because we know how important this bill is to the quality of life for many dogs.

“We’re grateful for all of the animal advocates who stood up for the dogs of Delaware to see this bill passed and to the governor for his ongoing support for the animals.”

This bill was about two years in the making. The Brandywine Valley SPCA provided lobbying support, facilitated stakeholder meetings and collaborated with the bill’s sponsors over the past year to help secure the necessary support for passage.

It marked the second victory for Delaware’s dogs in a week’s time.

After the Division of Public Health announced last summer it would begin enforcing a little-known law barring pups from outdoor seating areas at restaurants, an outcry ensued.

In response, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, a Rehoboth Beach Democrat, introduced legislation giving restaurants and similar establishments like beer gardens the ability to choose if they want to allow leashed dogs. The measure passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly and was signed into law last week.

“I was shocked to hear that pets couldn’t accompany their owners to restaurants after years of this policy not being enforced. Many, including myself, had no idea this policy existed,” Rep. Schwartzkopf said in a statement.

“Like many Delawareans, I always enjoyed taking my dog with me to grab breakfast. I know that both residents and visitors appreciate being able to bring their dog along when they go to get a coffee, bagel or sandwich and sit outside their favorite establishment. With this new law, we’ve resolved the issue for good so that without any confusion, restaurateurs and patrons can go back to the system we had enjoyed for years.”