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Anti-Tethering Ordinances – The Compelling Need to Protect Chained Animals

Many municipalities in the United States are finally waking up to the terrible suffering of pet dogs chained outside by ignorant owners. Often left without shelter from the intense summer heat and winter cold, often without food or water and unable to escape from other people or animals who would harm them, these poor dogs deserve better. In my home state of Florida, many counties have enacted outright bans on leashing dogs outside unless the owner is also outside with them. With active and enthusiastic participation from local communities, these ordinances have really made a difference in improving the lives of the animals we call our best friends, but sometimes treat us worse than our enemies.

How tethering harms animals and why it should be stopped

When we stop and think about the suffering humans inflict on their faithful animal companions, we really have to wonder why the connection hasn’t been banned decades ago. The even bigger mystery, however, is why there are still so many people who oppose anti-tethering provisions, even when the following facts are presented:

  • Dogs are social creatures and need regular interaction with the rest of their ‘pack’. Chaining them alone for long periods causes irreparable psychological damage, often making them neurotic, anxious and aggressive.
  • Dogs that are chained cannot run away when threatened and can only defend themselves by biting. Studies have confirmed that chained dogs are much more likely to bite and the victim is usually a small child.
  • Dog harnesses can easily become caught in other objects, further limiting an already limited range of motion or even lead to suffocation. The collars constantly rub against the dog’s neck, leaving it raw and open to infection.
  • Water bowls, if provided, tend to be knocked over, leaving the animal with nothing to drink. The dog has to urinate and defecate in the same small area, presenting an obvious health hazard and further affronting its dignity. Any grass is quickly trampled, leaving nothing but dirt to live on.
  • A chained dog does not get the exercise it needs and is generally neglected in every way, receiving inadequate nutrition and medical care.
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures can be fatal. In Florida, where so far only a few municipalities have responded with ordinances, heat stroke is a constant threat for much of the year. Temperatures above 85 degrees are potentially fatal to dogs.
  • Chaining is often a sign that dogs are being used for fighting. By giving animal welfare officers the ability to fine owners who leash their dogs, it gives them another weapon against this abhorrent practice.
  • Chained dogs do not make effective guard dogs. All they can do is bark, and they will tend to bark at anything, losing the ability to discern real threats. The best guard dogs grow up like members of the family.

Both the USDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association have stated that tethering is inhumane. However, without anti-tethering ordinances, animal welfare officers cannot step in to protect neglected dogs until it is too late, because most existing animal cruelty laws do not address the many problems caused by binding.

The False Arguments Used Against Anti-Tethering Ordinances

One of the most common arguments made in response to proposed anti-leash laws is that many dog ​​owners cannot afford to fence their yards. But the answer to that is obvious: the dog doesn’t need to be outside anyway. How do apartment dwellers manage without chaining dogs outside? In hot climates like mine, the dog must be inside most of the time anyway as it is very hot outside. A dog needs to feel like it belongs – like it’s part of the family unit. Dogs treated in this way adjust better psychologically and will also be more effective guard dogs.

Another argument used against anti-tethering ordinances is the cost of paying animal welfare officers to enforce them. We are seeing this play out right now in many Central Florida counties. Often missing from the discussion is the fact that officers can actually generate revenue by issuing fines to offenders. Additionally, practical experience in many counties that have adopted such laws has generated wonderful responses from local communities, with residents notifying the county whenever they see animals tied up. This greatly reduces the need for investigation, allowing officers to focus heavily on issuing warnings and, when necessary, citations.

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