Md. City Could Regulate Electric Fences

January 29, 2008 | By Matt Van Hoven | Category: Care & Safety | 858 comments
Tags: crime & law, care & safety, dogs

SECAUCUS, N.J. - Electric fences have become an advantageous tool for many dog owners looking for alternatives to traditional yard enclosures. One Maryland town is exploring whether to regulate this somewhat controversial technology.

A report from the Washington Post says Somerset, Md. residents are considering how far from the street electric fence cables should be buried. That's because residents say they've been scared by dogs running toward them across seemingly fenceless yards, only to be stopped within inches of the sidewalk or street.

A move currently being considered by town officials would require the cable be buried three feet from sidewalks and 14 feet from curbs without sidewalks. This would provide passersby a buffer zone from charging dogs.

But dogs can still get out; if the collar batteries die or your power goes out, so does the fence. Some breeds, like the Siberian husky, have thick fur that dampens the electric shock.

And how effective is a fence that isn't really there? Across the nation, other cities have taken on the issue.

Louisville officials decided that only spayed or neutered dogs may be penned by electric fencing. They contend that since the technology doesn't keep other dogs out, castration is a must.

Albuquerque has outlawed the systems all together, stating that they don't fulfill basic legal standards for enclosing canines.

Some disagree with the fences because they use electric shock as a barrier, causing pain to the animal, which doesn't know why it's getting shocked.

But proponents of the technology say its affordability, amongst other benefits, make it too good to get rid of.

For one thing, there's no building permit required to install the systems.

Invisible means invisible – providing a visually appealing alternative to chain-link fencing and other wallet-friendly fence materials.

Some neighborhood associations don't allow traditional fences at all. For dog owners in those areas, electric fencing may be the only option.

One electric fence company owner says regulating the fence-to-street distance means some dogs will hardly have any yard space at all.

As far as Somerset, town officials will make their decision in the weeks to come. We want to know what you think.

Share your thoughts about electric fencing under this story. Post your favorite pet videos at the zootooTV tab. E-mail us your story ideas at or call us at 877-777-4204.

Comments (512)

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6 years ago

I would prefer to see electric fences banned entirely. I wonder about all the drawbacks other commenters have written about. Too many things can go wrong to keep the dog really safe. Yes, an electric fence is much nicer looking than traditional fencing, but I would rather see an ugly fence and a dog that is truly safe.

Good Point | Reply ›

Katie M.

Katie M.
6 years ago

I don't like electric fences, but it's up to everyone else what they think about them.

Good Point | Reply ›

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