to:                  Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager

from:            Brian J. Curran, Chief of Police

Kevin Gunter, Lieutenant

subject:      Dog Tethering Ordinance Revision

date:            March 23, 2009


On February 16, 2009, the Chapel Hill Town Council held a public hearing on the issue of tethering dogs.  The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information that addresses concerns brought forward during the hearing.


The tethering of dogs has raised a variety of concerns.  Many of these are addressed in both the Orange and Durham ordinances regulating dog tethering. An additional area of concern brought forward pertains to the size of shelters, to reduce the likelihood of overcrowded conditions for the animals.


Based on comments made during the public hearing, the attached draft ordinances addresses those concerns brought forward regarding dog tethering and pen size.  Currently under Section 4-1 (d), adequate shelter is defined but does not address shelter square footage or dog size.  The draft revision to the definition of Adequate Shelter adds the following, which is similar to language in the Durham County ordinance (CHTC Revision Attachment 2):

1.      The size of adequate shelter as to dogs shall be at least one hundred square feet of unobstructed area per each dog weighing twenty pounds or less, and at least two hundred square feet of unobstructed area per each dog weighing more than twenty pounds.  However, these square footage requirements shall not apply to licensed boarding facilities, licensed pet stores, veterinary care, or grooming facilities.

In addition, the draft revision would move language from Sec. 4-1, Definitions, to Sec. 4-5 (c), under Cruelty to animals, and add time limitations for tethering similar to Orange County’s new ordinance (CHTC Revision Attachment 1).  Revised Sec. 4-5 (c) would make it unlawful to restrain a dog by means of tethering it with a chain, leash, or other device either to a stationary object or to a cable trolley system, for more than three hours within a twenty-four hour period.  These limitations could not be added together to allow for restraint by tethering for more than three hours within a twenty-four hour period. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c), and subject to the provisions of subsections (a), (b) and (d) of this section, a person may restrain and tether a dog:

(1)   During any activity where the tethered dog is in visual range of its owner or keeper and the owner or keeper is located outside with the dog.

(2)   While walking the dog with a handheld leash.

Currently the following four options have been suggested for consideration:

  1. To continue the status quo and make no changes to the Chapel Hill Town Code;
  2. To adopt rules on tethering that are similar to those recently enacted by Orange County;
  3. To adopt rules on tethering that are similar to those of Durham County;
  4. To adopt a combination of rules similar to those enacted by Durham and Orange County.

It is also recognized that the Town plans to continue to contract with Orange County in regards to enforcement.  For the purpose of consistency, adopting rules that mirror the current Orange County tethering ordinance may lessen the likelihood of misinterpretation.  In addition, enforcement would include those areas within the limits of Chapel Hill located in Durham County.


That the Council consider ordinance revisions [2007-03-23/O-7a and 2007-03-23/O-7b] from staff and refer possible action tonight to the Town Manager.




1.      Laurin Easthom dog tethering email (p. 10).

2.      Strom / Raleigh dog restraint information (p. 12).

3.      Roanoke Rapids tethering email (p. 26).

4.      Pediatrics / Which Dogs Bite? (p. 32).

5.      Financial Implications / Bob Marotto (p. 39).