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Politics & Government

First State passes a bill to further protect dogs

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A bill adding protections for dogs in Delaware awaits Gov. Carney’s signature. 

The legislation adds new standards for dog shelters and restrictions on keeping a dog tied up outside, while creating new leash laws.

The Delaware Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) will enforce the new rules. 

OAW Director Chris Motoyoshi says the law as it’s currently written only takes into account a dog’s breed in its rules on outdoor tethering.

“But it doesn’t take into account age or health condition, and those things all play a factor,” she said. “So this gives our officers the ability to look at each individual circumstance and determine whether the animal needs more protection or not.” 

The legislation does not allow dog owners to leave their dog outside during hazardous weather conditions. It also prohibits dogs from running at-large without a leash in public outdoor settings with few exceptions, considers tethering a dog outside for nine or more consecutive hours to be animal cruelty and states dog houses can no longer be constructed entirely of metal. 

The bill sets fines for breaking these laws at $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 for each following violation. But Motoyoshi says her agency understands it may take some time for dog owners to become educated about the new rules. 

“We’re going to work with the public over the next several months to help educate. Our first reaction, unless this is a repeat event, will not be a citation,” she said. “It’ll be education and checking back to make sure things have been corrected.” 

State Sen. John Walsh (D-Stanton) is the bills’ primary sponsor. It was introduced over the summer and passed the state’s House and Senate this week after two amendments.

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