I mentioned in a comment on another post that I am on an ad hoc committee to examine our County’s animal control ordinance where it concerns the tethering of dogs. Six years ago I was involved in a similar discussion, but it was more of a guerilla action. It was me and one other person (with the encouragement of a couple of County Commission aides who shepherded us through the process), appearing at County Commission meetings. Wow, were we ignorant.
But amazingly enough, it resulted in changes to the existing ordinance which were very good. Apparently we tweaked the consciences of the then existing Commissioners just enough. Okay, not really. That would be the Disney version. What really happened is, they said, can we just get beyond this and get these people out of the room? Let’s move on to the important issues, like approving a certain development project where I happen to own real estate.
But today, I have become assimilated. (I am Borg.) So I’m on this official committee. Where all four of my fellow committee members think I am the enemy. (Apparently, I am insufficiently assimilated.) The issue is that they want a total ban on tethering dogs. When I say, that won’t work, they say I’m not aiming high enough. They decided to compromise to the extent that tethering would be allowed only if the owner was present. I said, that won’t work either. Many people tether their dogs only when they are NOT present. Every example I give of why it won’t work is met with…dismay, to be nice.
One of the members constantly asks to have “experts” speak, which makes my eyes roll up in my head. We are the committee. Shouldn’t we be able to do this on our own? Haven’t we already read enough and experienced enough to form an opinion? If not, why are we here? We are just making a recommendation, for God’s sake. But the Chairman (the Director of Animal Control) complied, so we did. And I’m wondering if she now regrets her request, because all the experts agreed with me. The Regional Director of the HSUS was the most diplomatic. She said, there are many reasons why people tether dogs and other animals, so you want to be very careful about this…not to punish everyone. Most compelling was the Animal Control supervisor who represented the” boots on the ground” view. He was more blunt. Please don’t do this, he said. You will just drive it underground where we can’t see it. People will still do it, they will just chain them up deep in the woods, or confine them to garages where we can’t see whether they have food and water, or are injured. In other words, this won’t work.
So in the face of apparently lukewarm response to the ban idea, the ringleader of our group (whom I hasten to add is a very neat and compassionate person) created a Facebook page called Tether-Free Tallahassee. The latest post is an article about a woman from the Tampa area who traveled to Jacksonville to lend support to their consideration of a tethering ban.
The reason is that her 17-month old son was mauled to death by the next-door neighbor’s tethered Rottweiler. The woman was unloading groceries from the car when the son wandered over to pet the doggie.
It’s a known and well-researched fact that tethered dogs are more dangerous. If you know anything at all about animals, you completely understand this. You have removed one of their two options: flight. The only option left is fight. And they have to be ready at any second. They get anxious and paranoid. Every approach is a threat.
So my reaction was this: how about the concept of keeping a very close eye on your 17-month old son while you are unloading the groceries? Especially if you have a tethered Rottweiler next door, without a fence?
But if I had expressed this, which I didn’t, I feel sure I would have been even further ostracized, if that’s possible. It’s hard being the Enemy.
What I wanted to do was tweak the ordinance to make it safer and more comfortable for the dogs. I personally think that dogs should live in the house, and be let out into a fenced yard or walked on a leash when the owner is home. But not everyone is like me. Imagine that.