The controversial law, which passed in March, prohibits tethering animals at any hour — a step up from the previous daytime ban. Dogs still can be tied up under direct supervision and at some events such as shows.
The law also requires outdoor dog shelters be at least 80 square feet; they never can reach more than 85 degrees inside.
The new rules mark a victory for animal-rights groups and a major defeat for hunting-dog clubs and other groups that claim it goes too far.
Terry Workman, president of the Everglades Regional Dog Hunters Association, said the strict cage requirements will force lead some hunters to give away or abandon their dogs.
"It starts costing people a lot of money if they have two or three dogs," said Workman, adding he doesn't object to the tethering ban.
Workman keeps eight hunting dogs in cages behind his West Palm Beach home — three hound dogs and five Curs. Some fellow raccoon and hog hunters can't afford new shelters or don't have room in their yards, he said.
First-time violators of the tethering and shelter rules face a $100 fine. A second offense within a year comes with a $250 fine and a third offense costs $500. Depending on the severity of the violation, criminal charges may be filed.
Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control drafted the new law, aguing that it targets animal owners who keep their pets in deplorable conditions, Capt. Dave Walesky said.
"We were seeing people putting dogs in rabbit hutches," he said. "Before, we didn't have anything to stop them from doing that."
The county law requires more health protections for guard dogs and more disclosure to pet-store customers about where dogs and cats come from.
Palm Beach County's anti-tethering rule closely mirrors other restrictive measures gaining steam in Florida. Miami-Dade passed a similar ban in 2009. Broward County has no law on the books preventing people from tying up their dogs or requiring specific shelters outdoors.
Failed attempts to change that led some Broward cities to pass their own anti-tethering laws. Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach and Pembroke Pines are among those that ban daytime or unattended tethering.
Heidi Jones, who represents Miami and Broward for the nonprofit group Dogs Deserve Better, said she pressed Pembroke Pines to pass a tethering ban in August. It goes farther than other laws by also banning tethering in garages and requiring people supervising a tethered dog to stay within arm's reach.
Jones said Palm Beach County's law is a big step in the right direction.
"Palm Beach County has really been at the forefront," she said.
However, groups such as the National Animal Interest Alliance were unhappy with the unanimous passage of the Palm Beach County regulations. The organization, which represents animal breeders, owners and their animals, failed to get Palm Beach County commissioners to soften the tethering law.
"It's too black-and-white," said Patti Strand, National Animal Interest Alliance chairwoman. "[People] will either let their dogs go or take them to a shelter."
Many people cannot afford to fence-in their dogs, she said, and in some cases, tethering them can be appropriate and humane. Dog trolleys or runners attached overhead allow dogs to move around more. The county could have allowed the option of a fence around a tethered dog in urban areas where dogs are more likely to bite passersby.
"This is not a one-size-fits-all decision," Strand said.