A bill that would make it illegal to tie a dog in a fixed place for 10 hours a day or leave outside pets exposed to the elements appears poised to jump its next hurdle through the Oregon Legislature.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set Thursday in Salem to put the finishing touches on the so-called "tethering bill," which is meant to get outside dogs off ropes or chains for long hours of solitary time and into environs with adequate bedding and shelter.
Violations could lead to fines of up to $1,000, and violations could elevate to felony levels if the tethering results in a pet's serious injury or death. Exemptions would be in place for horses, livestock and other animals not classified as domestic, such as dogs and cats, and some working pets.
House Bill 2783 has seen bipartisan support as it sailed through the House Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee and enjoyed a more than two-thirds majority in the House.
The last amendment, which exempts chicken coops from restrictions against metal-mesh bedding in the bill's "adequate bedding" provisions, will be discussed during a Thursday work session.
The committee's chairman, Sen. Floyd Prozanski, said Tuesday that he expects the committee to pass the bill to the full Senate for consideration.
"I don't see why it wouldn't, based on the discussions and a request for this amendment," said Prozanski, a Democrat from Eugene. "I assume the votes will be there to pass out of committee."
The bill moved out of the House committee with an 8-1 vote and then passed the full House 30-14 before landing in Prozanski's committee late last month.
One of its proponents is Kelly Peterson, founder of the nonprofit Fences For Fido, which has taken close to 600 dogs off tethers by building free-fenced enclosures and shelters for dogs and their families.
Tethered dogs tend to be lonely, unsociable, anxious and more aggressive, Peterson said.
The Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association warn that chained dogs are about eight times more likely to bite. Chained dogs are more likely to escape, run at large and pose a threat to themselves and the public.
Peterson, who helped craft the bill, said it would set minimum standards for outdoor pet care that most pet owners can meet without too much hardship, and that's why it has received such a favorable response this session.
"It resonates with almost everyone in the (Capitol) building," said Peterson, of Portland. "This issue has touched the hearts of Oregonians more than any other issue.
"People love dogs," she said.
Under the bill, dogs and other domestic animals could not stay tethered to a fixed object for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period. The provision is extended to 15 hours in a 24-hour period if the tether is attached to a running line or pulley system.
Animals would have to be on reasonably long tethers that won't tangle and not be on a collar that pinches or chokes the animal when pulled.
The rules don't apply if the owner or possessor remains in the physical presence of the tethered animal or in a campground or recreation area. Dogs used to protect livestock, hunting dogs and sled dogs are exempt, and all dogs would be exempt during transportation.
The bill also would require shelters such as dog houses or barns that would keep domestic animals out of the elements. That does not include in or under vehicles, crates or carriers or shelters with wire or chain-link floors.
The bill also would require those shelters to contain adequate bedding that would remain dry, reasonably clean and at normal body temperature.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.