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County moves to limit dog tethering
Tethering ordinance
Photos provided by local residents show tethered dogs during different weather conditions. - photo by Staff Report

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. – The Newton County Board of Commissioners moved Tuesday night to limit the amount of time and when a dog can be tethered outside.

Commissioners tabled consideration of the county’s new animal control ordinance at its last meeting following a lengthy discussion after the public and some commissioners raised concerns about language in the measure allowing dog owners to tether their dogs to a run or trolley system of a length adequate for the size, bred and particular needs of the dog.

That language has been removed from the ordinance that was approved by commissioners Tuesday.

The new ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any owner to chain, tie, fasten or otherwise tether the animal to dog houses, trees, fences, vehicles or other stationary objects as a means of confinement except that the animal may be temporarily confined by a tether while directly attended by its owner.”

The subsection of the ordinance dealing with tethering will take effect Sept. 1. It grants dog owners a grace period from Sept 1 to Dec. 31 to make necessary arrangements for securing their dogs without tethering them.

For that period, enforcement officers issue warnings to dog owners found to be in violation.

Under the new ordinance, owners shall confine animals within an adequate fence or enclosure or in a house, garage or other building adequate to prevent an animal from running wild.

Commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the measure. District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards cast the dissenting vote, voicing support for a ban on all tethering.

District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson abstained from voting on the measure after questioning whether the county’s animal control department had adequate personnel to enforce the ordinance.

The tethering issue came to light over the winter when local animal advocates expressed outrage after seeing dogs tethered outside during subfreezing weather conditions. Covington took similar action earlier this year.