Great news: On June 12, the Alexandria City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting people from tethering dogs for more than three hours cumulatively within a twenty-four hour period. Alexandria Vice Mayor Kerry Donley introduced a draft of the ordinance in order to protect dogs from neglectful “owners” who chain their dogs outside all day without food and water.
Hopefully soon, officials in Sarasota, Florida, where I live, will also pass an ordinance protecting dogs from neglect and misery. Today, June 22, the Sarasota County Commissioners will be discussing a similar ordinance to ban the permanent tethering of dogs in Sarasota County. If all goes well, the draft ordinance will be “up for adoption” at a public hearing in the future.
The proposed ordinance, which was brought to my attention by Care2 member Diana Cao, who has been in contact with the commissioners for months, is similar to legislation that is already in effect in other parts of Florida, including Seminole City and Miami-Dade County. Several other communities around the nation also prohibit or restrict tethering, and California, Texas, Connecticut, Virginia, and Nevada have statewide tethering laws.
The existing legislation will hopefully give more communities the impetus to pass tethering laws as well. While many of us would never dream of chaining a cherished family member up like a bicycle, many dogs are left to suffer at the end of short chains for hours, days, and even months on end. Forgotten, and viewed as mere possessions, the miserable, lonely dogs often must endure all weather extremes, subsisting on scraps and rain water, with little or no exercise or companionship. Many of them become extremely aggressive after spending their lives in “solitary confinement.”
By passing—and enforcing—tethering laws, authorities can help protect dogs and public safety. According to a 1994 study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physicians, chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to attack than dogs who are not tethered.
You can help break the chains of neglect and abuse by working with your city or county legislators to ban tethering in your area. To read sample ordinances, comments from officials in communities with tethering laws, tips on helping individual animals, and information about approaching your council members to discuss an anti-tethering ordinance, see HelpingAnimals.com.
The resources should help you propose a tethering ordinance in your area. Dogs are counting on you to speak up for them. Life at the end of a chain is no life at all.
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