Pet owners in Toms River,accustomed to leaving their furry friends tied up in the yard all day while they're out, now have guidelines to follow...and fines for ignoring them.


Changes to the township's animal ordinance approved by the Township Council places restrictions on the length of time pets can be left outdoors, and requirements for their needs while they're out there.

The revisions came about through the intervention of a confederation of animal rights advocates who presented a clear, reasoned and cogent approach to the problem of animals tethered by themselves to the point of neglect.

Members of the Toms River Animal Shelter and Department of Human Services consulted in crafting the changes.

Under the revisions, animals can be tethered outside for no longer than six consecutive hours at a time, and not between sunset and sunrise. Owners must provide food, water, and a dry, shaded spot in which the pet can rest.

Chains are no longer acceptable for tethering, and the line anchoring the pet must be at least 15 feet long with a swivel on each end and a well-fitted collar or harness. The tethering line can weigh no more than one-eighth the weight of the pet. It should be clear of trees, poles, fences, or stakes that could result in entanglements.

Dog shelters are required to be ventilated, resistant to moisture, extreme temperatures and wind, and sizable enough to allow the pet to stand, sit or lie down.

Fines for violating the tethering and sheltering ordinance start at $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $300 for the third. Past that point, township animal control officers determine whether the owner relinquishes the pet.

Toms River follows Plainfield and Voorhees in adopting changes based on their model. Berkeley Township and Little Egg Harbor officials have taken similar measures under serious consideration.

"This was a common sense ordinance," Township Council President Jeffrey J. Carr said in a prepared release. "It provides methods for our animal control officers to insure that pets are properly cared for in a safe manner. My hope is that pet owners care for their pets responsibly and that we never have to enforce this ordinance."

"The passage of this ordinance is another example of the governing body's concern for our four-legged friends," Mayor Thomas Kelaher said.

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