Adequate Shelter

Across the United States, millions of dogs endure their entire lives confined outdoors by chains affixed to collars and staked to the ground, left with nothing to shield them from extreme weather conditions. Typically, these animals are denied socialization with people and other animals. Since dogs are social, active animals, keeping them tethered causes them to suffer both physically and psychologically. Many are neglected and left to suffer and die, especially when adequate shelter is not provided, compromising public safety. Local adequate shelter and anti-tethering ordinances support the humane treatment of outdoor dogs while enhancing public safety.

What is Adequate Shelter? Adequate shelter refers to the standards of the structures or nature available to shield dogs from weather conditions when they are left outside. When shelter is inadequate, dogs are left vulnerable to cold, heat, and storms, or have limited access to food and water.

Inadequate shelter is inhumane. This is a cruelty issue as well as a safety issue. Dogs lefts without shelter while tethered may become irritable and aggressive. The short radius afforded to them by their chains limits the dogs to a small area of what often becomes hard-packed mud and their own feces. Dogs can become entangled in their chains, causing injury and even death. Due to the tugging against their restraint, the collars can cause irritation and even become embedded in the tissue or rub the flesh raw.


Tethered dogs without adequate shelter are often neglected. Although tethered dogs might be provided some shelter, it is often inadequate; and the animals are subjected to weather extremes – heat, bitter cold, rain, or snow. Many tethered dogs are not provided with regular food and water and receive inadequate veterinary care.  

Adequate shelter laws would reduce aggression in dogs. Continual confinement makes dogs extremely frustrated, leading to an increased desire to chase and bite. In addition, certain dogs become territorial over their limited space and therefore will act aggressively toward people who approach their area. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Plastic Surgeons are proponents of responsible dog ownership and have stated, “Confine your dog in a fenced yard or dog run when it is not in the house. Never tether or chair your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior.”

Many jurisdictions have recognized that inadequate shelter and chaining is cruel. Limiting the amount of time dogs can be tethered and prohibiting dogs from being tethered, especially in extreme weather, will protect both people and animals. Several states have passed laws outlawing the chaining of dogs or limiting the amount of hours that dogs can be chained, and hundreds of communities have anti-tethering ordinances.

Read the true stories of backyard dogs Gus and Donovan. Gus, a 14 year-old Bichon Friese, was a lonely backyard dog until a kind neighbor found him and rescued him from a yard without any shelter. However, Donovan, a beagle mix, was not so lucky and lived his entire life isolated in a backyard till his death. Visit Unchain Your Dog for more stories of backyard dogs and resources to assist tethered animals.

Read the report on the Public Safety and Humane Implications of Persistently Tethering Domestic Dogs. This informative document was prepared by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to explore in depth not only the inhumane aspects of tethering dogs but also the public safety issues created by this practice.

Adequate Shelter for Companion Animal Factsheet, assists communities across Ohio with their efforts to educate municipalities on the need to pass extreme weather ordinances (link to factsheet).  As Ohio experiences more extreme weather, shelter must be provided for companion animals to protect them from extreme heat and cold. 

OAA’s Tethered Dogs: A Guide to Local Municipalities and Adequate Shelter for Companion Animal Factsheet, assists communities across Ohio with their efforts to educate municipalities on the need to pass anti-tethering and extreme weather ordinances. OAA is currently working with Ohio communities, such as Mt. Healthy in Hamilton County, to improve both public safety and the quality of life for outdoor dogs in Ohio.

Review anti-tethering and adequate shelter ordinances (click here). The number of cities in Ohio that have passed anti-tethering ordinances is over 50 and growing, including Akron, Ashtabula, Cleveland, Columbus, Delaware, Eastlake, Mentor, Willoughby, and Youngstown. In fact, Anderson Township, Dennison and Lyndhurst implemented emergency measures to pass their anti-tethering ordinances citing the need for preservation of the public peace, health, safety and welfare.  The number of cities in Ohio that have passed adequate shelter ordinances is over 30 and growing fast, including Akron, Canal Winchester, Canton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Delaware, Millersburg, Sunbury, and Toledo.