By: Claire Roberson, Communications Director

Cruel tethering and chaining has been an issue on the minds of animal lovers for decades. Luckily, in 2018, ordinances on the county and city levels in Aiken passed and legislation in the South Carolina Statehouse was introduced, making tethering an issue on virtually everyone’s mind in South Carolina.

However, with more and more discussions about regulating tethering, it’s apparent that there are a lot of thoughts and opinions that have been formed based on misinformation. It’s vital that we continue to educate ourselves on the facts regarding animal welfare issues if we wish to see a change for the better in the lives of our community’s animals:

What does “chaining” and “tethering” really mean?

“Chaining” and “tethering” generally refer to the act of fastening a dog to an immobile object unattended. “Chaining” refers to the act of using heavy, thick chains to fasten a dog, whereas “tethering” typically denotes a situation where a partial restraint on a lighter chain, rope or pulley is used. These terms do not refer to the act of walking a dog on a leash or temporary, supervised tethering with owner present.

sad dog

Why is tethering bad?

Tethering is harmful to dogs both mentally and physically. Since dogs are social creatures that need interactions with their humans and/or other animals, keeping them confined for a long period of time can damage their psychological well-being. Many times, owners that keep their dogs tethered or chained for an excessive amount of time will see their pets become unhappy, anxious and sometimes aggressive. This can cause the dogs to receive minimal affection because of their neurotic behavior.

Physically, tethered dogs endure many ailments, such as: raw and sore necks, insect bites, parasites, strangulation, entanglement, harassment or attacks by humans or other animals and even their skin painfully growing around their collars. These dogs can also fall victim to irregular feedings, insufficient veterinary care, overturned water bowls, being forced to sleep and eat in an area contaminated with urine and feces and the dangers of extreme weather and temperatures. (Photo Credit: Pxfuel)

How does tethering negatively affect humans?

Dogs have a natural fight-or-flight instinct. When a dog is tethered and faced with a perceived threat and the need to fight or take flight, they will be forced to fight since their ability to take flight has been taken away. Unfortunately, the perceived threat is many times a child that has approached the dog and is unaware of the danger.

Even if a dog is eventually let loose from his chains or tether, by his owner or on his own accord, the animal may remain aggressive due to his damaged psyche and is likely to chase and attack.

happy dog

Should tethering be allowed? How should dogs be restrained safely?

Though we recommend that dogs live indoors and receive regular exercise, food, water, veterinary care and attention, putting a dog on a restraint can be acceptable if: the dog is restrained for a short period of time and is being supervised, the collars fit properly and comfortably (no choke chains), the dog has the ability to express their natural behaviors by having room to move, the tether cannot become entangled with the dog or other objects, the dog is brought inside at nighttime and during extreme weather conditions, the dog is provided with a safe enclosure, proper shelter and receives adequate veterinary care, attention, food and water. (Photo Credit: Pxfuel)

The questions above, as well as the subjects of pulley runs, why people tether their dogs and how you can help a chained or tethered dog, can be found on The Humane Society of the United States website (

You can read more about the City of Aiken’s tethering codes & ordinances online (Sec 8-19-c):

For more about Aiken County’s tethering codes & ordinances (Sec 4-81):

An Aiken native and self-proclaimed cat lady, Claire Roberson is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Communications Director, working in marketing, grant writing and media correspondence. She attended College of Charleston, where she graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Business and interned with Charleston Animal Society, the leader in No-Kill South Carolina. When not working, you can find Claire hanging out with her 18-pound Maine Coon mix, Anakin.

The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a private, nonprofit, no kill animal shelter in Aiken, SC.  The SPCA also operates a local Thrift Store (“Where Shopping Saves Lives”),  a public, affordable Veterinary Care Center & a Dog Park.  It is our mission to improve the lives of companion animals by rehoming abused, abandoned, and neglected pets while fighting for their well-being through vigorous legislative efforts, humane education, and by offering affordable veterinary care for all.