to:                  Mayor and Town Council

from:            Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager

subject:      Public Hearing on Dog Tethering and Restraint

date:            February 16, 2009


On November 24, 2008, the Chapel Hill Town Council adopted a resolution to hold a public hearing on the issue of tethering and restraining dogs. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information for the public hearing.


A number of jurisdictions within North Carolina place limitations on the tethering of dogs.

When the Council set the public hearing, they identified four options for consideration:

  1. Continue the status quo and make no changes to the Chapel Hill Town Code;
  2. Ban the tethering of dogs;
  3. Adopt rules on tethering similar to those recently enacted by Orange County;
  4. Adopt rules on tethering similar to those of Durham County.


Status Quo.  The current Chapel Hill Town Code does not include the term “tethering.” However, Section 4-1(g) defines “restraint” as follows:

(g)   Restraint:  A dog is under restraint within the meaning of the chapter if: 

(1)   It is on or within a vehicle being driven or parked;

(2)   It is within a secure enclosure;

(3)   It is controlled by means of a chain, leash or other like device. If an unattended animal is restrained by a chain, leash or other like device, it shall be designed and placed to prevent choking or strangulation. Such restraint will not be less than ten (10) feet in length and either on a swivel designed to prevent the animal from choking or strangling itself, or on a chain run.

(4)   It is on the premises of the custodian and attended by and under the control of a competent person.

Notwithstanding the references in the above definition to the length of the restraint, to a swivel, and to a chain, this language simply defines the term “restraint” and does not establish any restrictions.  Existing Code references to restraint of animals, other than this definition, concern requiring restraint of some sort for the following:

Ban all tethering.  This option would not allow exceptions for special circumstances in which temporary tethering, if it meets certain requirements, may be appropriate considering the needs of the public, the custodians, and the dogs.

Orange County ordinance.  Orange County’s new ordinance limits the time period during which a dog may be tethered to a maximum of three hours within a twenty-four hour period and includes specifications for allowable tethering devices.  There are exceptions to the time limitations for the following:

Durham County ordinance.  The Durham County ordinance prohibits tethering with the following exceptions:


That the Council receive comments from the public hearing and provide guidance to Town staff.


  1. Chapel Hill Town Code Chapter 4, Animals and Animal Control (p. 4).
  2. Orange County dog tethering ordinance [32 KB pdf] (p. 15).
  3. Durham County dog tethering ordinance (p. 19).