Tethering Restrictions

Chapter 5 of the City's Code of Ordinance 

was amended 
October 2014 

Download a printable copy of the Tethering Resources Brochure:


Questions regarding any section of the Animal Chapter of the City's Code of Ordinances can be directed to the Animal Services by calling (336) 578-0343 or by e-mail at:

Tethering is Prohibited:

Tethering a dog in the Burlington City limits is prohibited except in specified circumstances and never for longer than 7 consecutive days. However,tethering a sick, diseased and/or injured dog, or puppy (a dog that is one year of age or younger) is never permitted. 


Tethering is Permitted for the following specific reasons and only for fewer than 7 consecutive days:
  • Lawful animal events and hunting activities
  • To meet the requirements of a camping or recreational facility
  • Law enforcement activities
  • After taking possession of a stray and having notified animal control
  • When a caretaker is outside and within eyesight of the tethered animal

 Tethering Ordinance FAQ's:

What is the timeline for implementation of the new ordinance?

Phase I: Public Information/ Outreach
  • January 1, 2015 - December 31, 2015: Residents will be informed of the new ordinance and provided with information and resources to assist with the transition away from tethering as a method of confinement. 

Phase II: Warning Period
  • January 1, 2016 - June 30, 2016:During this six month period, written warnings will be issued to dog owners that are not in compliance with the ordinance and will be given until the end of Phase II or thirty days, whichever is greater, to comply.

Phase III: Transition Period Ends
  • On and after July 1, 2016: Full enforcement begins and a formal citation will be issued to owners who previously received a written warning and are not in compliance. 

What are the penalties for ordinance violations after full enforcement begins on July 1, 2016?

1st Offense:
  •  Written Warning

2nd Offense: 
  • $100 civil penalty (If the animal is not already spayed or neutered, the fine can be waived if the animal is spayed or neutered by a vet and proof is provided within fourteen days.)

3rd Offense: 
  • $250 civil penalty  

4th + Offenses: 
  • Violators can be found guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor and punished by a fine of up to $500. 

Violations to other sections of the Animal Ordinance will continue to result in a civil penalty of $50

Civil penalties are to be paid to the tax office within 10 days. Late payments are charged an additional $25 fee. Each day of violation is counted as a separate offense, incurring additional civil penalties. 


What is tethering?

Tethering refers to keeping dogs on chains, ropes, or other such tie-outs versus within a fenced structure. It is often defined in reference to a stationary object, but also includes overhead trolley systems. Walking a dog on a leash is not considered tethering. 

What are some alternatives to tethering? 

Dogs are social animals and want to be a member of the family. Having your dog spayed or neutered and keeping him or her primarily indoors has many benefits for you, and your dog. For more information about bringing our "outdoor dog" inside, click here.  

Here are some links to additional resources to make the switch from tethering:

A community based non-profit, Friends of Mebane's Animals (FoMA) new program, "Freedom Fences"provide assistance to needy owners of tethered dogs in Alamance County. Visit their website for more information or if you would like to help by volunteering or donating.  

What types of tethers may be used during periods of lawful tethering?

The following are stipulations to the types of tethers that may be used during periods of lawful tethering:

  •     Tethers must be made of rope, twine, cord, or similar material with a swivel on one end or must be made of a chain that is at least ten (10) feet in length with swivels on both ends 
  •     The weight of the tether and collar or harness combined must not exceed ten (10) percent of the dog’s body weight.
  •     Only buckle-type collars or body harness made  of leather or fabric may be used when a dog is tethered. 
  •     The use of a head harness, choke-type collar or pronged collar for tethering is prohibited

   Are there any additional rules specific to Trolley systems?

     The length of the cable along which the tethering device can move must be at least ten feet, and the tethering device must be of such length that the dog is able to move ten feet away from the cable perpendicularly and attached in such a manner as to prevent strangulation or other injury to the dog and entanglement with objects

     What are the rules related to fenced yards or enclosures?

Any dog confined within a fenced yard or enclosure must have adequate shelter, adequate space, and exercise. Enclosures must be structurally sound, in good repair,  humanely clean, and provide adequate space. These  provisions are defined as follows:

Adequate Shelter: a clean, safe place for each animal  where it will be protected from natural elements, pain,  suffering, or impairment to health. 

Adequate Exercise: providing a dog with the opportunity to move in a manner to maintain sufficient muscle  tone.

Adequate Space:
 space sufficient for the animal to  make  all normal body movements (sit, stand, lie, etc.) in a comfortable and normal position.

Humanely Clean Conditions: periodic cleaning of  animal enclosures to maintain basic sanitation and  health.