County Bans Tethering Unattended Dogs

New Hanover County, N.C., commission votes to update ordinance.

Posted: March 15, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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After nearly an hour of debate on March 12, the New Hanover, N.C., County Commission voted to make it illegal to leave a tethered dog unattended, or to use chains and ropes as leashes under any circumstances.

Supporters called the decision a major step in protecting public health, while opponents labeled it as an attack on responsible dog ownership. County health officials have said that strengthening the existing laws would benefit the majority of county residents.

Local veterinarian Robert Weedon, who’s also a county Board of Health member, testified during the commission meeting that studies show chained animals are involved in three times as many bite incidents as non-tethered dogs.

But opponents of the restrictive leash law countered with Katherine Houpt, a veterinarian from Cornell University who said that during a four-month study she conducted of sled dogs, there was no behavioral difference between tethered and non-tethered animals.

Several speakers said people, not dogs or housing techniques, were responsible for bad behavioral tendencies.

The debate over the county’s tethering ordinance began in October 2006, when a breeder was cited for having one of her Bulldogs tied up in her fenced backyard.

The breeder, who was inside her home at the time, challenged the $250 fine and the vagueness of the ordinance.

The ordinance change is expected to undergo a second, binding vote during the board’s April 2 meeting.

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Shelley   Brooksville, FL

4/25/2011 6:52:09 PM

Bruce,
First, it is not fair to target Pit Bulls, any dog that is constantly chained, tethered, or always restrained and just left to it's own devices, will make an effort to get free. if the owner who does not have a fenced yard (like me) tethers their dog for a few minutes so they can go potty, then that is ok ( just my opinion). I do put my dog on a tether for no longer than 15 minutes and I am always right on my screen porch watching him. I agree that leaving a dog tethered for any length of time is unreasonable and creates problems. Owners of all breeds need to be responsible and make sure their dogs are well socialized to other animals and humans. i don't think it is breed specific. i work with the Humane Society and have met dogs that are more aggressive than own pits, it is socialization that is a key component.

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Bruce   b, YT

3/21/2009 7:02:29 AM

Our city is considering the same sort of thing and I'm trying to find information on both sides of the argument. We would like to put in place either a breed ban or a tethering ban because we are having trouble with chained dog attacks, but they are also mainly pit bull terrier types doing the attacking. In my opinion the dogs are so strong in the front that after time they either break their chain or the last attack the dog pulled the stake from the ground, which is why these terriers are the dogs breaking free more than the others. Just a thought. We do have a decision to make and opinions will be helpful if they are not rude. The last article I commented on the author responded very rude and negative. So please keep in mind I'm an old man looking for information about a subject I know nothing about. I choose not to put my full name and area because of my position on the council and I wouldn't want someone to see anything about my inquiries have it come back on me.

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Carla   Greensboro, NC

12/16/2007 5:46:42 AM

I think this is a long, overdue law. It should be applied state wide not just in one county. I am hopeful proponents will work to get this in place in all areas. The only other animal I ever see chained or tethered are horses and that's infrequent. Way to go on this one. We need to be speaking up for the welfare and rights of animals, especially dogs who seems to be the most abused and mistreated. I would like to see stronger laws, fines and possible jail time for those who abuse animals.

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