Archive for Friday, May 28, 2004

Proposal would set limits for leaving pets tied up

May 28, 2004


Animal-rights advocates want City Hall to prohibit pet owners from chaining their animals in yards for extended periods of time.

Midge Grinstead, director of the Lawrence Humane Society, said the practice of "tethering" -- keeping animals chained outside around the clock -- was cruel to animals and unsafe for humans. Dogs that live on chains become more aggressive, she said.

"This is just the last thing to target people who are not nice, who abuse animals," she said. "These are animals that live on a chain -- that don't come inside in inclement weather, who live outside."

To combat the practice, the advocates are promoting an ordinance that prohibits the chaining of a dog for more than an hour at a time, and no more than three hours a day. The ordinance is modeled after one passed last year in Wichita.

Dennis Graves, animal control supervisor for the city of Wichita, said nearly 300 citations had been issued since the ordinance passed.

"It's been great," Graves said of the law. "We've issued several citations to people who've refused to comply, but we've had a lot of compliance from the public, people who understand why the law is there."

Lawrence Humane Society officials said they saw cruelly tethered animals at least once a week.

In Lawrence, animal rights advocates say, tethering often is used by some unscrupulous pet owners to create more aggressive animals. Grinstead said that was true of people who train dogs for dog fights, and for drug dealers who use aggressive animals to deter law enforcement officers and other prying eyes.

Lawrence Police Sgt. Mike Pattrick said officers didn't often encounter the latter situation.

"I don't have statistics. I don't think it's something we run into that often," Pattrick said. "But anytime we run into a large animal, we have to take that into account in our operations plan."

Assistant City Manager Dave Corliss said city law was ambiguous on tethering of dogs.

"We have anti-cruelty provisions that do not explicitly prohibit the tethering of animals, similar to what Midge has reviewed from Wichita," Corliss said. "There may be situations where the tethering of an animal is cruelty under our cruelty ordinances, and there may be cases where it's not."

City Manager Mike Wildgen said the issue might go to the Lawrence City Commission before the end of June, as part of a broader review of animal control ordinances.

Graves said the law had proved popular in Wichita.

"The main reason is it's no kind of life to live on the end of a chain," Graves said.

"Studies have shown repeatedly that animals that are chained constantly throughout their life become more aggressive, are more apt to bite," he said. "They don't have the option of running away from danger, so they become more aggressive with their territory."

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