Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2004

Law to ban tethering dogs to get hearing this week

June 27, 2004


As Monica Huff watched her dachshund, Ozzy, play in the front yard of her East Lawrence home, she said she would have no problem with a proposed city law that would ban keeping dogs chained.

"I had a bad experience. My family had a wiener dog, too, and they tied it up on a leash," Huff said Friday. "They came home one day and found that he had strangled himself. So I have a real problem with leashes, especially if you have a fenced-in back yard."

Such stories are why the Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday will consider an anti-tethering law, based on an ordinance passed last year in Wichita.

"I want to make the life for dogs on chains better," said Ann Wilson, chairwoman of the Lawrence Anti-Tethering Committee. "They're social creatures that thrive off of interaction with humans and other dogs. Chaining them is cruel and inhumane."

The proposed ordinance would prohibit people from keeping a dog chained for more than one hour at a time, for a maximum of three hours a day, with required three-hour breaks between chainings. Violations would result in a minimum fine of $100, and the municipal judge would have the authority to sentence violators to six months in jail.

Chained dogs can hurt themselves, Wilson said, and tend to become more aggressive, posing a danger to the public.

Commissioners may agree.

"I guess I'd sort of like a little more information," Commissioner David Schauner said. "But I think if we can draft an ordinance that's enforceable, that protects the public as well as the animals, then I think it's worth pursuing."

Enforceability remains a key question. In a memorandum, Assistant City Manager Dave Corliss said gathering evidence to prosecute tethering cases could be a "staffing challenge given current resources."

"It could be time-consuming," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "The prosecutor's got to have the evidence and background that it really happened."

Wilson said City Hall should be capable of enforcement.

"We're going by what Wichita has gone through and experienced," Wilson said. "If a city that large feels they can enforce it -- and they have enforced it -- then I'm sure Lawrence can."

Dennis Graves, animal control supervisor for the city of Wichita, told the Journal-World in May that nearly 300 citations had been issued since the ordinance passed. Corliss said the city would take a closer look at Wichita's enforcement practices, if commissioners want to approve the ordinance.

Huff said she hoped the ordinance would pass.

"We don't want to be that way. We don't want to be chained up," she said. "Neither should dogs."

The commission meets at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

-- 6News reporter Holly Naylor contributed to this story.

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