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City of Reading Legislative Highlights – Caring for Animals

City of Reading Legislative Highlights – Caring for Animals

Legislative Highlights

Caring for Animals – in 2015 City Council adopted Code Red/Code Blue legislation that prohibits dog owners from leaving their unattended dog outdoors in periods of extreme heat or cold.  The law allows the City’s animal control agent – The Animal Rescue League (ARL) – to call a Code Red or Code Blue when extreme temperatures are predicted:

A Code Blue may be called when the National Weather Service (NWS) predicts a wind chill temperature of 20° F. or below or precipitation with temperatures below 32° F.A Code Red may be called when the National Weather Service (NWS) predicts an extended weather forecast that includes at least three consecutive days of 95° F. or above temperatures.

When the Code Red/Code Blue is announced by the City’s animal control agent, the animal control agent informs the public and provides guidance on making reports about violations, along with information about where to report violations.

In 2017 City Council enacted anti-tethering legislation that prohibits dog owners from

tether, fasten, chain, tie, restrain or cause an unattended dog to be fastened, chained, tied or restrained to houses, trees, fences, garages, stakes or other stationary or highly immobile objects by means of a rope, chain, strap or other physical restraint for the purpose of confinement, except under certain circumstances.

The anti-tethering legislation is modeled directly from the language that was considered by the PA State Legislature and that adopted by the Harrisburg City Council.

Dogs (like people) are social animals, yet many dogs in the U.S. live their entire lives at the end of a chain. Constantly tied–‐up outside, dogs become lonely, bored, and anxious, and often suffer from lack of proper food and shelter as well. They can also develop aggressive behaviors. These dogs also often bark excessively which is a quality of life for the dog and the neighborhood. This is a problem in numerous communities throughout the nation.  

The goal of the ordinance isn’t to penalize humane dog owners who walk away from their tethered dog for a few moments but to give animal control officers a basis to investigate cases where dogs are left tethered for days on end with inadequate food, water and shelter.

Both pieces of legislation were written in consultation with the Animal Rescue League.  The full text of both pieces of legislation are available in the City online Code at