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Posted: September 12, 2010 12:30 a.m.

A tighter leash on tethering laws


The county is set to crack down on the improper tethering of dogs, after the Board of Commissioners approved a more stringent animal control ordinance Tuesday night.

The ordinance requires pet owners to provide shelter, food and water to pets left outside tethered and unattended. Owners must also ensure that the area is clean and that the tether has sufficient length and durability.

Ordinance violators face a fine of $100 to $1,000 and up to 60 days of jail time, in addition to other court-imposed penalties. Repeat offenders can be subject to increased penalties.

The ordinance previously included wording preventing mistreatment of dogs, but the new tethering-specific language is meant to leave little wiggle room.

The change was inspired by numerous complaints from residents about the inhumane treatment of tethered dogs, including dogs that had become tangled up by their leash and couldn’t move, commissioners Tim Fleming and Nancy Schulz said previously.

The ordinance revision was written by county attorney Jenny Carter, who studied tethering regulations in other communities and worked with Animal Control Director Teri Key-Hooson.

Hoosen said animal control does not have the personnel to actively regulate this change, but will depend on residents reporting violations.

The county also revised its policy on vicious dogs and aggressive animals. State law defines a vicious dog as one "that inflicts a severe injury on a human being without provocation after the owner has notice that the dog has previously bitten or attacked or endangered the safety of a human being."

Aggressive animals must be confined indoors in securely enclosed structures. If an animal is confiscated, the owner can only get the dog back after getting approval from the court, paying boarding fees and a $100 fine.

If a dog is found to be vicious or aggressive it must be implanted with a microchip within 36 hours. Failure to comply will result in a $1,000 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Hoosen said this change was made to allow the county to identify repeat violators.



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