Birmingham City Council considers ordinance that prevents inhumane treatment of animals

Birmingham, dogs
Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Update: The Birmingham City Council passed the dog tethering ordinance unanimously.

The Birmingham City Council is considering at its Tuesday, July 21st meeting, a proposal that would amend the city’s code to prevent animals from being inhumanely tethered.

Championing the new ordinance is City Councilman Hunter Williams.  In an interview with Bham Now, Williams explained the reasons for the new rule and why it will make a difference.

IMG 9564 Birmingham City Council considers ordinance that prevents inhumane treatment of animals
City Councilman Hunter Williams surrounded by Mayor Woodfin and fellow council members at the Clairmont Avenue Walking Trail. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

“Essentially we have had a large amount of complaints about people who are using dogs as a cheap alarm system. They get a puppy and tether them – chain them to a tree or some sort of fixed post in their yard. 

This ordinance will make that illegal and it sets out specific fines. If someone has been found to be doing it two times in a 12 month period, they actually have to show up to court, they can’t just pay a fine. 

It makes using a chain or tying up a dog illegal in the city of Birmingham.”

According to Williams, the new ordinance does allow owners to use some humane tethering systems that are sold at pet stores.  

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Birmingham City Hall. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Here is a description of the proposed ordinance from the City Council website: 

“According to the proposed amendments, it will be unlawful for anyone to tether a dog or other animal with a chain to a fixed point. Among other changes, owners will be required to provide a running line for their animal and, according to the ordinance, “the tether must be attached to a properly fitting collar or harness worn by the dog, with enough room between the collar and the dog’s throat through which two fingers may fit.”

New Rule Applauded by Local Humane Society

Image may include: puppy, masterplan, park, GBHS
Photo via

There is widespread support for the new rule within the community, especially local humane society organizations.

“The Greater Birmingham Humane Society is absolutely thrilled that the Councilor Williams has shown not only leadership but compassion for our community’s animals by proposing this ordinance,” says GBHS CEO, Allison Black Cornelius. “research has shown tethering dogs is not only inhumane but also dangerous for people and their pets. This ordinance will decrease abuse and neglect cases and save money for animal control.” 

A public hearing will be held before the council votes on the measure. Williams expects the full council to take a vote on the new ordinance after the hearing.

“These changes are about holding people responsible for their actions towards animals they’ve chosen to care for.” concluded Williams.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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