JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – Washington County, Tennessee commissioners in a Monday meeting opted to tighten the leash on dog owners that tether their pets under certain conditions.

According to Washington County Resolution No. 23-05-12, a pet owner can incur fines and civil litigation if a dog is kept in violation of the following conditions:

  • The dog shall not be tethered in a matter that results, or could reasonably
    result, in the dog becoming frequently entangled on the restraint or another object.
  • If there are multiple dogs tethered, each dog must be on a separate
    tether and not secured to the same fixed point.
  • The tether must allow the dog to sit, lie down, and stand comfortably
    without the restraint becoming taut and allow the dog a range of movement.
  • A dog shall not be tethered if it is ill, suffering from a debilitating disease,
    injured, in distress, in the advanced stages of pregnancy, or under 6 months of age.
  • A tethered dog must have access to clean water, food, dry ground and
    necessary shelter that is safe and protective while tethered.
  • A dog shall not be tethered in a manner that results in the dog being left
    in unsafe or unsanitary conditions or that forces the dog to stand, sit, or lie down in its
    own excrement or urine.
  • A dog shall not be tethered by means of a choke, pinch, slip, halter, or
    prong-type collar, or by any means other than with a properly fitted buckle-type collar
    or harness that provides enough room between the collar or harness and the dog’s
    throat to allow normal breathing and swallowing.
  • A dog shall not be tethered in a manner that causes the dog injury or
  • The weight of the tether shall be reasonably necessary to safely restrain
    the dog without placing excessive strain or weight on the dog.
  • The tether must be a minimum of 10 feet long and weigh no more than
    10% of the dog’s body weight. Example: for a 60-pound dog, the tether can weigh no
    more than 6 pounds.

Language in the ordinance outlines a fine of $25 for an owner’s first offense and a range of $50-$100 in penalties for each additional offense. Each day a dog’s conditions violate the ordinance is considered a new offense.

After a round of discussion with Washington County Johnson City Animal Shelter director Tammy Davis, the commission voted to pass the resolution with one no vote from Commissioner Marty Johnson.

“In the county, right now all that I would like to see happen is that we have proper tethering guidelines put in place,” Davis said.

Enforcement for the resolution would be done by animal control officers, who would need permission or an inspection warrant from Washington County General Sessions Court before entering a resident’s property.

With commission approval secured, the resolution now awaits final signatures from County Mayor Joe Grandy and Allyson Wilkinson, county attorney.