Health and Safety Code 122335(b) makes it a crime to “tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog, or cause a dog to be tethered, fastened, chained, tied, or restrained, to a dog house, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.” This section can be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1000.00.
The law is one of several California animal abuse and cruelty laws, such as the law against leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle.
- chaining a dog to a doghouse.
- fastening a dog to a tree with a rope.
- tying a dog to a car bumper by means of a choke collar.
A defendant can challenge a dog tethering charge with a legal defense. A few common defenses include the accused showing that he/she:
- qualified for an exception under the law,
- was falsely accused, and/or
- acted out of necessity.
A violation of Health and Safety Code Section 122335 is a wobblette offense. This means a prosecutor can charge it as either
- an infraction or
- a misdemeanor.
An infraction is punishable by a fine of up to $250.
A misdemeanor is punishable by:
- a fine of up to $1,000, and/or
- custody in county jail for up to six months.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will address the following in this article:
- 1. When is the dog tethering law in California?
- 2. Are there defenses?
- 3. What are the penalties for Health & Safety Code 122335 HS?
- 4. Can a person get a conviction expunged?
- 5. Are there other offenses related to dog tethering laws?
1. When is the dog tethering law in California?
A prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime to convict a defendant under this statute:
- he/she tethered, fastened, chained, tied, or restrained a dog, or caused a dog to be tethered, fastened, chained, tied, or restrained, and
- the dog was tethered, fastened, etc., to a doghouse, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.1
Fortunately, there are a number of exceptions under HS 122335 that allow tethered dogs. For example, a person can lawfully tie his/her dog up provided that:
- the dog is tied to a running line, pulley, or trolley system (as long as the animal is not wearing a choke or pinch collar),
- the dog is tethered per the requirements of a camping or recreational area,
- the dog is tied for reasonable periods of time in order for a person to complete a temporary task,
- the dog is tethered while a person is engaged in herding livestock or cultivating agricultural products.2
2. Are there defenses?
Our criminal defense lawyers advise clients that there are three effective defenses to challenge an accusation under this statute. These include the defendant showing that he/she:
- met an exception under the law.
- was falsely accused.
- acted out of necessity.
2.1 Exception to the law
Recall that there are several exceptions under this statute that allow a person to lawfully tether a dog. This means it is always a defense for an accused to show that his/her conduct fell under one of these legal excuses.
2.2 Falsely accused
Unfortunately, people get falsely accused all the time of unlawfully tethering a dog. Reasons for this include:
- jealousy, and
- ill will.
A defense, then, is for a defendant to assert that he/she was unjustly blamed.
Under a necessity defense, a defendant essentially tries to avoid guilt by showing that he/she had a sufficiently good reason to commit the crime. In the context of tethering a dog, an accused could attempt to show that he committed the crime since he had no other choice (e.g., because of an emergency).
3. What are the penalties for Health & Safety Code 122335 HS?
A violation of these laws is a wobblette offense. This means a prosecutor can charge it as either:
- an infraction, or
- a misdemeanor.3
As an infraction, the offense is punishable by a fine of up to $250.4
As a misdemeanor, the offense is punishable by:
- a fine of up to $1,000, and/or
- custody in county jail for up to six months.5
A judge does have the discretion to award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation in lieu of jail time.
4. Can a person get a conviction expunged?
A person convicted of misdemeanor dog tethering can get the conviction expunged provided that he/she successfully completes:
- a jail term, or
- probation (whichever was imposed).
Expungements do not apply to infraction charges since infractions under California law are not considered criminal acts.
5. Are there other offenses related to dog tethering laws?
There are three offenses related to the unlawful tethering of a dog. These include:
- animal abuse and cruelty – PC 597,
- dog fighting – PC 597.5, and
- leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle – PC 597.7.
5.1 Animal abuse and cruelty – PC 597
Penal Code 597 PC is the main California law that makes it a crime for a person maliciously to kill, harm, maim, or torture an animal.
Unlike HS 122335, this law requires that a person inflict harm or injury on an animal.
5.2 Dog fighting – PC 597.5
Penal Code 597.5 PC is the California statute that prohibits a person from:
- owning or training a dog with the intent to have it fight with another dog,
- causing a dog to fight with another dog, and
- intentionally attending a dog fight.
If a person tethers a dog prior to a dog fight, then he/she could be charged under both:
- PC 597.5, and
- HS 122335.
5.3 Leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle – PC 597.7
Penal Code 597.7 PC is the California statute that makes it an offense for a person to leave an animal in an unattended motor vehicle when the conditions would endanger the health or well-being of the animal.
Like HS 122335, a violation of this statute can be charged as either an infraction or a misdemeanor.
Are you a dog owner accused of tethering your dog? For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. We practice in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California, and we appear in state courts as well as United States federal courts. And we offer discount rates and payment plans during the COVID 19 pandemic.
To report animal abuse, contact local law enforcement or an animal control officer.
- California Health and Safety Code 122335b HS.
- California Health and Safety Code 122335c1-5 HS.
- California Health and Safety Code 122335d HS.
- California Health and Safety Code 122335d1 HS.
- California Health and Safety Code 122335d2 HS.