Politically Incorrect: Dog Tethering

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.

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4 responses to “Politically Incorrect: Dog Tethering

  1. Are you talking about tethering on your own property? How can the gooberment get involved in that? Outrageous!

  2. Yes, on your own property. (It’s against the law already to tether a dog on anyone else’s land, including public land.) We are talking about a specific section of the ordinance, called “humane care”. So even if the dog is on your own property, it must still be treated humanely. It must have access to food, water, and shelter. It cannot be tethered so close to a fence that it can jump over and hang itself. The tether has to be a certain length, based on the size of the dog. The dog must have a proper collar, i.e, you cannot just go to Home Depot, buy a length of chain, and wrap one end around the dog’s neck. It has to be brought inside during extreme weather, and they are about to define what that means more specifically. They are about to tweak the issue of the collar, which was one of my main goals. The connector to the tether from the collar should be a swivel type, and they are about to do that too. Otherwise the dog can wrap it’s tether around and around the tree or the post or whatever and end up suffocating itself that way. Oh also, you cannot tether female dogs (or any other animal) who is in heat. So like I said, the ordinance is already good, because the really cruel people will be unable to meet one or more of those already existing conditions.
    But yes, that seems to be the goal of my fellow committee members–to prevent people from tethering dogs on their own property. And believe it or not, there are a few counties in Florida which do prohibit it, and many many more nationwide. I’d like it if people didn’t “want” to tether their dogs. But I can’t “make” people believe as I do.
    One of the good things that came of it is that we learned there are grants available to help people build fences. But if you rent, you can’t put up a fence without the landlord’s permission, but I think most would agree to it. It does increase the value of their property.

  3. I don’t want to deprive poor people and renters (which is not all the same thing) of the companionship of a dog. But that’s exactly what my fellow committee members want to do. They believe some people just shouldn’t be allowed to have a dog. I agree with that to an extent too. But they want to define who can have a dog on their terms. I just have a problem with that.
    I frequently use my next door neighbors as an example. They have three big dogs, one of which is perpetually tied to a tree. That’s no kind of life for a dog. But if they untied her, she would jump the fence (they do have a fence) and get killed by a car. So I said, it breaks my heart to see her every day, but I don’t want them to untie her and have her die. They will NOT let her live in the house, so what is the alternative? So these people said, they should find her a new home.

  4. And yet, any dolt can have a kid with much less hassle than owning a dog. Maybe the parents of those kids who teased the bus monitor should be fined $500 each….

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