Should a dog live its life on a chain? That is always a discussion question at any animal control or animal related organization’s conference. People who are in the animal welfare profession or those with a passion for animals know all the reasons why a dog should never be allowed to live its life on the end of a chain that’s tied to a tree or doghouse. It’s a public safety issue (chained dogs are three times more likely to bite) and it’s a pet safety issue (Dogs die from heat exposure, lightning strikes, entanglement and more) .  But does the public know the ins and outs of tethering a pet? What are the local laws regarding tethering your pet outside?

Tethering can be defined as the action of tying an animal with a rope or chain to restrict its movement or the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object and leave them unattended. Tethering is a way to restrict the movement of an animal that was born and bred to run, hunt, and play. Thus, it becomes a form of solitary confinement for an otherwise social animal.

Tethering is an issue that is coming up more and more in local commission meetings nationwide. Many are instilling anti-tethering laws and making it illegal for pet owners to tether their pets outside unattended. Others have strict laws about how and when pet owners can tether their pets.

Flagler County does have a law in regard to the tethering of pets. The County ordinance has a list of conditions that a pet owner must meet to be able to tether the pet outside. One condition is that a tethered dog must be released from the tether and confined in an alternate manner for not less than ten (10) continuous hours during each twenty-four (24) hour period. Another condition is that a dog may never be left tethered and unattended on a vacant or abandoned property.

The city of Bunnell has a tethering law as well. The Bunnell ordinance states that no person shall tether a dog to a stationary object while outdoors, except when all listed conditions are met. This ordinance has a condition that a dog may not be tethered outside during the hours which occur from dusk until dawn. They also can not be tethered outside in periods of extreme weather, including but not limited to extreme heat (in excess of 85 degrees) or cold (lower than 50 degrees), thunderstorms, lightening, tornados, tropical storms, or hurricanes.

The city of Flagler Beach was the first in Flagler County to adopt regulations for tethering a dog. They also have a list of conditions that a pet owner must meet in order to tether a dog outside. They have the ordinance that is the closest to an anti-tethering law. The ordinance states that an owner or responsible party must be on the property at all times while a dog is attached to a tethering system. So that means that a pet owner can’t tether their dog outside and then leave the property. They also include a condition about not tethering outside during extreme weather.

The city of Palm Coast does not have a specific ordinance that addresses tethering but does list tethering or restraining in their definitions. They define it as a chain, cord, or cable, with a minimum length of eight feet, used to confine an animal. They also include in the definition that these devices shall not be used to confine a dog on an owner’s property during times of extreme weather, hurricanes, or other adverse weather conditions including, but not limited to, freezing temperatures. There are no enforceable ordinances in their code as of right now.

If you have a concern for a dog that is tethered outside and you believe that the conditions don’t meet the conditions that are set forth in each ordinance, please contact your local animal control agency.

Katie Share is an Animal Control Officer for Flagler Animal Services that work through the Flagler Humane Society and can be reached at Flagler Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) not-for- profit organization founded in 1980. For more information go to