Protecting Outdoor Dogs

The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society has been actively trying to increase protections for chained dogs in our community. Late in 2013, the Town of Essex passed a number of welfare improvements, including a limit on animal tethering (the limit was reduced to 4 hours in 2019), and in 2014 the City of Windsor passed a limit of 4 hours a day. The Town of Kingsville (4 hours), the Town of Amherstburg (10 hours), the Town of LaSalle (4 hours), the Town of Leamington (4 hours), the Town of Tecumseh (4 hours), and the Town of Lakeshore (4 hours) have also passed tethering limits. If you know of a dog being tethered in any of these areas for longer than the limits please make a report by calling 519-966-5751, ext 116.  Please note that if there are also issues with possible lack of shelter, poor body condition, food and water, etc your call should be to the Provincial Animal Welfare Inspection Team at 1-833-9ANIMAL.  They will ensure that the provincial standards of care are being met.  

Chaining is Bad for Dogs

Dogs are pack animals, and a lonely life on a chain can be slow torture for them, especially when it extends for months or years. As noted by the BC SPCA “Dogs are social beings who crave and thrive on companionship and interaction with other people and animals. Left for hours, days, months and even years on a chain, dogs suffer immense psychological damage. They can become aggressive, anxious and neurotic through lack of socialization.”.

Chained dogs tend to be – or lead to – the more severe neglect or abuse situations that the Humane Society investigates. Dogs that are chained for long periods of time are often ignored, and can suffer from chronic neglect or lack of veterinary care.

Animal welfare organizations are not the only ones who maintain that extended tethering is inhumane. Even the US Department of Agriculture has stated that “continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane”.

For a glimpse of the sad reality of the life of a tethered dog, please read “A Day in the Life of a Backyard Dog” at

Chaining is Bad for the Community

A 1994 study authored by two CDC (Centers for Disease Control) physicians found that chained dogs were 2.8 times more likely to attack than dogs who were not tethered.

Of 50 children aged 1 or older who were killed by dogs in the US from 1979 to 1988, 28 percent had “wandered too close to a chained dog”. Nearly 30% of the 38 children aged 1 to 9 killed by dogs in the US between 1989 and 1994 died after “wandering too close to a chained dog”.

Dogs that are tethered for long periods of time are also more likely to bark, and cause noise issues with neighbours. Dealing with these complaints takes up valuable police and by-law officer time.

Some arguments against chaining limits are that the alternative is to allow dogs to run loose. However, allowing your dog to run at large is still prohibited. Your dog must still be confined to your property either by a fence, a pen, a chain for a limited time, or (preferably) inside the home.

Provincial and Federal Legislation isn’t Sufficient

There are provisions under provincial animal welfare law regulating tethering dogs outside. However, those only include limits on the length of the chain, and require that food, shelter, and water be provided. There are no time limits under the provincial law.

The government has the power to strengthen the law.  Consider making your voice heard by contacting the Premier and the Minister of the department responsible for animal welfare.  Using your own wording will have the most impact, but if you need assistance please click here to access a template.

What Can You Do?

If your municipality is considered chaining limits – speak up! Talk to your municipal councilor and let them know that you support putting limits in place. Spread the word to friends and family who may also want to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.  Community sentiment is that unattended tethering of dogs should be limited. While many people feel that tethering should be restricted entirely, any limit is a step in the right direction. Limits of 2, 4, or even 12 hours are better than no limit at all.

If you know of a chained dog, contact the Provincial Animal Welfare Inspection Team. Even without tethering limits, some of the situations also involve inadequate shelter, food, or veterinary care, and in those cases action can be taken under other legislation. Even if not, consider what else you can do to help make the dog’s life better. Could you offer to take the dog for a walk and spend time with them? Those might be the happiest moments of the dog’s week. Encourage the owners to consider bringing the dog indoors – for tips on how to do so visit

Chained dogs - only command stay