NEWTON COUNTY TETHERING LAWS
THE TETHER MUST:
- be attached to a stationary object that can’t be moved by the dog
- be at least 10 ft. long or three times the length of the dog; whichever is longer
- not be able to be chewed by the dog
- weigh less than 10 percent of the dog’s weight
- not have more than one dog attached to it
- not be used for dogs that are sick or injured
- not be used for dogs under six months of age, unless they exceed 20 pounds
THE TETHERING AREA MUST:
- include adequate water, food and shelter
- be clear of obstacles that could entangle tether
- contain dry ground and be sanitary
- allow for maximum movement
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.