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Unchained Dogs in Arizona: Everything You Need To Know

June 18, 2015 By John Torgenson

Arizona summers are not only harsh for the valley’s four million residents, but also for our four-legged friends.  Dog owners, especially those that keep their animals tethered outside, must be mindful about exposing their pets to the heat.  Chaining or tethering of a pet is a practice commonly used by pet owners to exercise control of their animals, where the pet is tied-up to a stationary object, like a fence post or flag pole.  Most people do not realize that keeping their dogs outside during the summer is a form of animal abuse.  Neither local Phoenix ordinances nor the State of Arizona have any laws prohibiting chaining or tethering.

Our neighbors to the south in Tucson have got this issue right: the City of Tucson completely bans chaining a dog that is unattended.  Many folks believe that only owners of “aggressive breed” like a pitbull or Rottweiler should abide by an anti-tethering law because those dogs are “more prone to attacking.”  However, this is simply not true.  Any dog that remains tethered outside is subject to abuse and can become increasingly aggressive towards others.

Local animal advocates rallied outside the State Capitol earlier this year to push the legislature for a statewide anti-tethering law.  This anti-tethering law would establish standards for dogs that live outside.  This is important for a few reasons:

1. Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to heat exhaustion and other similar health problems when exposed to harsh weather conditions.

2. Dogs that are chained or tethered outside (especially in brutal Arizona heat) can develop aggressive behaviors.  Chained or tethered dogs become increasingly anxious, lack clean water and develop heatstroke.

3. Chained dogs are subject to harassment by passersby and other larger animals, such as coyotes.

4. Chained dogs are more prone to attack.  A chained or tethered dog that becomes free, or is otherwise out in public is more likely to attack a person without provocation.

5. Arizona dog bite laws are harsh.  Arizona is not a “one free bite” state.  This means that if your dog bites another person, even if the dog has never so much as snarled at another person, the dog owner can be responsible for his dog’s actions.  If your dog is chained, breaks free and attacks someone – you are liable.  If your dog becomes increasingly aggressive as a result of chaining and attacks someone – you are liable.

This summer, please keep your dogs indoors.  Do not chain or tether them.  Although you may not consider it to be animal abuse, chaining or tethering a dog outdoors is abusive.  Worse, a chained dog is more likely to exhibit aggressive tendencies and attack another person.  If this happens, you, the dog owner, will be liable.

As temperatures soar into the 110s, local news outlets reported that the Arizona Humane Society received a wave of phone calls reporting chained dogs left outside in the heat.  

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If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, tell them to first contact Maricopa Animal Care and Control to report the dog bite.  Maricopa Animal Care and Control will then come out to investigate the dog bite and speak with the owners.

Finally, if you or someone you know suffered injuries from a dog attack, contact our Phoenix injury lawyers at Torgenson Law today.  We’ve handled numerous dog attack cases and would love to handle yours.  Being bitten (by a dog) bites.

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John Torgenson

John Torgenson is a highly experienced personal injury lawyer with over 20 years of practice in Arizona. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Notre Dame. John has a proven track record of securing substantial verdicts and settlements, including an $8.25 million recovery for a gunshot injury victim. His expertise has earned him AVVO ratings and recognition as a Super Lawyer.

John is also a sought-after lecturer on personal injury law, sharing his extensive knowledge with peers and aspiring attorneys. Beyond his legal practice, John is an avid golfer and actively supports organizations like the Military Assistance Mission, Arizona School for the Arts, Page Balloon Regatta, University of Arizona Foundation, Junior Achievement of Arizona, and the Tim Huff Pro Bono Golf Classic.

Passionate about advocating for injury victims, John dedicates his career to battling insurance companies and corporate interests, ensuring that the rights of those who are hurt are vigorously defended.