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Council passes tethering ban

Published 11:21pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dog owners in Suffolk will no longer be able to keep their animals chained outside after Suffolk City Council passed a ban on tethering during Wednesday’s meeting.

The 6-2 vote to ban the practice came after two unsuccessful motions to pass ordinances that would have restricted tethering but not banned it outright. The new ban is set to begin Sept. 1, allowing a period of time for citizens to learn about the ban and make arrangements to comply with it.

Councilman Mike Duman, who initiated the conversation on tethering several months ago, said after the meeting a ban was not his first choice, as he believes a ban would preclude some residents from owning a dog. But he added the decision shows the city is being proactive in addressing issues.

The discussion lasted more than an hour. Two motions to pass other ordinances that would have restricted such things as the length of time an animal could be chained, the age of the dog, weather conditions, type of collar and other factors failed.

Police Chief Thomas Bennett said banning tethering for a set length of time — one proposal was 10 hours — would be difficult to enforce without getting a confession or having a witness who kept eyes on the dog the entire time.

“Do we really believe this is enforceable?” Councilman Curtis Milteer asked. “Who’s going to sit and watch a dog 10 hours to make sure it hasn’t been released during that time? Anytime we put something on the books we can’t enforce, we’re playing tricks with the public.”

Councilmen Lue Ward and Charles Brown voted against the ban. Brown said he was concerned lower-income residents would not be able to afford fences, kennels or other methods to keep their dogs contained.

“If you take away tethering, you’re telling the poor people in this city they don’t deserve a dog,” Brown said.

But Mayor Linda T. Johnson — who gave up her gavel to second the motion for a complete ban — said there are plenty of affordable ways to be able to keep dogs outside without mistreating them.

About 20 people from the Suffolk Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were in the audience during the work session to support the measure.

“It’s the right thing for the city and our most helpless residents,” Kay Hurley, community outreach director for the Suffolk Humane Society, said after the vote.

Hurley said the society is considering establishing a fence fund for responsible owners who are unable to afford it.

“We don’t want anyone to lose their pets if they are responsible,” Hurley said.

Danielle Katz, campaigns manager for PETA, also applauded the ordinance.

“We’re thrilled that Suffolk has voted to become a safe place, not only for people but for animals,” she said. She added the organization now will focus its efforts on getting a similar ordinance passed in Newport News.

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  • cbtb628

    I am all for the ban. Ive seen so many dogs chained up, without water, without food, neck wounds, pouring down rain…and what is the purpose of the 15 locks hanging from the collars? I was once told it was to “strengthen then neck muscles”. Why would you be concerned with that when you didn’t take the time to go out and feed the poor thing or get him out of the rain?
    I now not all animals are treated like that. I don’t tether my dog, I have a fence BUT if I had a larger dog and no fence, I probably would put her out on a chain (a very long one I might add) for a few hours a day.I don’t see anything wrong with the tethering in itself as long as its used appropriately.
    A lot of people want the cute little animals as babies, but when they grow up they toss them on a chain outside and forget about them.Bottom line, if you cant afford proper care, don’t get them. SAME goes for having children, if you cant afford them STOP having them!!
    Now, as for Mr Duman paying more attention to this issue than more important ones in the city…..some of the issues ive seen mentioned here, aren’t important to me. Not everything is important to everyone. ALL issues need to be addressed but the smaller ones don’t need to be ignored either. I don’t see it as wasted hours. I see it as an attempt to clean up our city! I definatly know of bigger and better ways to do that too but I wont go there….
    The ban is a great idea, Im glad to see it. I really hope it gets enforced!
    Good Luck Mr Duman, you’ve got your hands full.

    Suggest Removal

    • happyGoLucky

      Hahahaha. Priceless… Tax dollars wasted affects everyone while dog owners make up a portion of the population. I don’t own a dog so I dont care about this crusade. Mike has his hands full alright… With my tax dollars!!! Now, if one were a dog owner and did not pay taxes I could see backing Magic Mike..

      Mike has changed since he has been in office. I used to like him. Now, not so much.

      Suggest Removal

  • AC1201

    Why was this handled like “emergency legislation”?

    Shouldn’t these public servants comment in a public forum?

    Chief of Police said there were 2 instances of animal cruelty related to tethering last year.

    Law was already in place to address the issue.

    Now, with this law passed what if:
    you can’t afford a fence?
    your dog digs under fences (all Suffolk dogs aren’t lap dogs)?
    what if your subdivision doesn’t allow fences higher than 4 feet and your dog is a jumper?

    We’re struggling to stay employed and council is on this kind of boondoggle of the mind. What a sorry sequence of events.

    Rammed through like pay raises, recycle bins, burn bans, etc. Suffolk is NOT urban. Council is acting like a bunch of Va. Beach wannabes. Trust me, if I wanted to live at the beach I would move there.

    Suggest Removal

    • happyGoLucky

      Here here. If you are going to post in a forum and ask for Input don’t solicit a phone call to answer

      @linret. The purpose of this forum is to post opinions and perhaps debate issues not respond via phone.

      Suggest Removal

    • survivingmediocrity

      I could not agree with you more!!!

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  • sillysal

    First, let me say that I have nothing against animals as pets. I have the most adorable little pooch that is absolutely dear to my heart.But I know that he is not a human being. I would have a lot more respect for some of those on the board if they showed as much compassion for the many HUNGRY and NEGLECTED CHILDREN within our city. ( Please excuse me, I do see photos of them at the food giveaways at THANKSGIVING. Makes for good photo ops.

    Suggest Removal

  • Lovebug

    Its a shame that people want to blame the City or anyone for that matter because they can’t chain their dog while they stand infront of their house to watch their kids and leaving their back gate open. There are simple solutions to these one would be put your dog on a leash and take them out front to be with you and your kids or a more simple solution would be keep your gate closed so the dog can be in your back yard. Opening and closing a gate is very simple to get to bikes etc. Atleast it is at my house doesn’t require much energy.

    If animal owners would only use some simple common sense its actually very easy. If you can’t afford a fence of some kind and you don’t have a small lap dog that enjoys being in a house while your at work then don’t own a dog.

    I think its great that the society is looking into establishing a fence fund for responsible dog owners. Thats not our tax dollars people thats donated money that goes to the society.

    I’m glad this issue was addressed even during a time that there are more pressing issues on the table. Council doesn’t just spend their time on the budget process they have other issues to deal with as well and they don’t just go away because the budget is being worked on.

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  • http://mikeduman.com mike

    happyGoLucky, give me a call and I’ll discuss all your issues. 757-449-9688

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    • happyGoLucky

      Mike
      I would prefer you address the questions here so that there is no misrepresentation of what may be said via phone. Additionally I’m not a fan of closed door meetings as I alluded to in my post.
      Some transparency would be welcome and a public vice
      private response would be more sincere.

      I’m assuming you logged in here to address comments so it would be appropriate to do so.

      Thanks,
      Happy

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      • linret

        happy, the purpose of this page is to reply to the posted article. Stop trying to hijack it for your own purposes. Either take Mike up his offer or find another forum in which to vent.

        Suggest Removal

      • happyGoLucky

        @linret. I am exercising my first Amendment. I am replying to this article and it is my opinion that the crusade against tethering is a waste of my tax dollars. I pay mikes salary and he can answer my questions regarding issues that are more important than his effort on the tethering issue. I respect your opinion and your attempt to run cover for him. Vote for him again if you must that is your right just as it mine to ask a few simple questions. If there is nothing to hide it shouldn’t be all that difficult to provide answers right?

        I am sorry if you cannot grasp the correlation between the wasted resources on this issue vs the time and resources that could have been applied to real issues .

        Suggest Removal

  • luv4hockey

    I guess to City Counsel truly believes the 6×6 kennel at Lowes seems like a much better idea then the 20 foot zip line my dog is on now. I wonder where the possible funding assistance available for dog owners will come from? Possibly, the Planning offices revenue line item. The City of Suffolk requires a permit for all new and replaced fencing structures erected. I’m still holding my breath for the City to repair the underground fencing system I had installed last summer,that they damaged to install a new metered water service I received no notice on being installed. I agree that there should be more enforcement for animal cruelty but why pass more laws with less personal to enforce it. Oh that’s right the City manager needed another raise. Good job City of Suffolk.

    Suggest Removal

  • http://mikeduman.com mike

    I regret so much time and energy was devoted to this issue, but it needed to be addressed. If you have not had the opportunity to view the pictures that were provided to me that show dogs with 20 pound chains, neck wounds, tangled around trees, emaciated, and completely neglected please give me a call and I’ll make them available. It should be noted that it was never my intention to totally ban tethering. I brought forward an ordinance that would have allowed up to 10 hours of tethering with conditions to prevent abuse. This ordinance did not pass. The result was the alternative of a total ban. We do have much more pressing issues to address and I welcome any constructive input.

    Suggest Removal

    • happyGoLucky

      Hi Mike. I have some constructive input. Although, I agree with you that the pictures are quite moving, but we are talking about animals. I don’t think that most people would disagree that animal cruelty does exist. However, the frustration brought about by you and other council members who clearly do not know how to assess priorities. I hope you can understand that although pitiful and heartwarming, the fate of rover is not as important as issues that affect human beings.

      Furthermore, thanks to your crusade we know have a citizen complaining about some poor geese that have no crosswalk or crossing guard to direct traffic and protect them.

      To switch gears here…I would like to ask you a few questions in this public forum and I would appreciate honest answers.

      1. Why does the City Manager receive the benefit of Unlimited Leave accrual?

      2. Why did you and other council members find it unnecessary to orchestrate the voting of her most recent raise in an unannounced session?

      3. Why do you need a 37 million dollar municipal center?

      4. Why did parks and rec purchase a 30 thousand dollar golf cart when the old ford ranger did the job just fine? I have police officer friends that have seen this vehicle and they question it as well.

      5. This one is obviously tongue-in-cheek but has to be asked. Is there anyway you can stop by starbucks on the way to the next council meeting and buy an 8 shot caramel macchiato for curtis milteer and also donate a cellphone for him to accept phone calls from his constituents?

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      • MrJiggyFly

        Well said. Come on Mike! Common sense spending! We have adjusted our family’s budget. It’s time for the city to do the same. Some departments are out of control.

        Suggest Removal

    • whitemarshtaxpayer

      As we the citizens can thank you for your approach to isolated incidences one can only wonder what your mindset is .. You dont have time to consider kids that need pencils and paper to do their work at school.. The teacher that cant have a dog for her children any more because she cannot tether him in the back yard for her family to play with when they get home from work and school. I just hope that when the time to vote comes again the voters in your area dont have time to consider you. .. And not to pick on just you I am hoping the other cronies on council get the same message !!! I hope this was constuctive enough for you to understand .

      Suggest Removal

    • justwondering

      thats fine duman..and im pretty sure the pictures are awful but EVERYONE doesnt leave their pet to end in those conditions. My dog has never had a chain or collar embedded in his neck he has never been without food water or attention and CLEARLY the reasoning for this being brought to the board was more an adult supervision issue with a god ugly end. You and no one else should be able to judge one because they treat their pet like a pet and still love them. As long as the dog is being fed given water and is played with and talked to allowed to jump on you to play…who is anyone that can say oh thats not enough we have to strip away the animal instincts confuse the animal and make it think its really human…..A DOG IS CALLED A DOG NOT A HUMAN YOU TREAT YOURS THE WAY YOU PLEASE AND I CAN DO THE SAME OUTSIDE….since you wasted this much time use the more and lift this STUPID ban…

      Suggest Removal

  • http://none charlie

    Surprising Suffolk!!!!!!Go figure what will come up next!!!!

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  • thekytikat

    So I guess this law mean that I can’t hook my dog to a lead while I’m out in my front yard working on the garden or watching my young kids riding their bikes on the street (we don’t have a sidewalk). I guess this means that I will have to leave her locked in the house at those times since we generally open the gate to backyard to allow free access to the garden tools and the bikes, etc.

    I guess this means that the dog that lives down the road with no fence will not be allowed outside period. Poor thing. Currently it does get tethered, but in a humane fashion, there is shelter, food & water provided, and the tether is long enough & appropriate as per the VA state law. Poor critter won’t be allowed outside now I guess.

    FWIW – I agreed with Councilman Brown — and I think this may be the first time I have ever said that! This whole thing is a giant distraction from the budget process and the fact that council WILL raise our property taxes this year, the question is, how much, 2.5 or 23 cents?

    Dumb stupid ban. WTG Duman. /eyeroll Ugh.

    Suggest Removal

  • Roger Leonard

    This was the right decission and I applaud Mike Duman for moving this forward. Now we need to get a teathering law applied to the budget, where restraint is needed!!!

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    • happyGoLucky

      Sigh………….

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    • happyGoLucky

      A discussion that might be appropriate after “real” issues have been dealt with. Applauding Duman for this is equivalent to prescribing Lunesta to Milteer…

      Suggest Removal

  • hambone

    Guess a law on dogs is more important than funding the schools or city budget.

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    • happyGoLucky

      You said it hambone…indeed!
      I also find it that a Tree Hugger Duman like Duman does not find it appropriate for dogs to hug trees…

      Suggest Removal

    • happyGoLucky

      You said it hambone…indeed!
      I also find it that a Tree Hugger like Duman does not find it appropriate for dogs to hug trees…

      Suggest Removal

  • Lovebug

    Seriously people. The bottom line here is responsibility of the dog owner. They are worried that the “poor” of the city will feel not worthy of a dog. I have owned all sorts of animals all of my life from a simple fish to livestock. If you have to keep ANY animal on a chain you shouldn’t own it and NO your NOT worthy if you don’t have the money to properly care for your animal. Has nothing to do with being poor it has to do with the fact that you can not give the animal a proper life. Dogs need to be able to run and exercise, they need human contact or they resort to their “wild” side. It is the responsibility of the animal owner to assure that your animal does NOT dig out from their fence. If you can not control your animal then you should not have them, PERIOD! I own horses one of them weighs over 1100lbs and I can control her all day long even when she wants to freak out. As animal owners we have to spend time with our animals. Get to know them, work with them, and learn to make them respond to you through respect for you and training. I had a dog years ago that got out from under our fence one time. As a responsible owner I had to take other measures around my fence line to assure he wouldn’t get out again.

    The City has made the right decision here. I see it all through our city everyday. Not all dogs are neglected by no food, water, or shelter while chained outside but they are neglected of the necessary exercise and human contact they require and are worthy of!

    Suggest Removal

    • KNRMCO

      bug…agreed. Dogs or any animal are really like children. They need human contact, socialization & disipline. W/O it they run amuck. We have 2 95lb dogs; yes they are big; they are not outside dogs & boy do they LISTEN! They are disciplined just as we would a child & it shows. Chaining all day outside does not help a dogs behaviour.

      Suggest Removal

    • John Doe

      Bug…I mostly agree with you. However, not all tethered dogs are abused and unloved. I would have a agreed more with restrictions, although I realize that would be harder to enforce. My neighborhood forbids “privacy fences” (the 6 foot kind). My dog can easily clear my fence. I don’t like to tether her, but i have, for short times. She can go the entire area of my back yard, but not quite to the fence. The issue I have with the law, is the same as most these waste-of-tax-dollars laws. They spend hours on this, but forget about schools, public safety, roads etc. Then enact laws that only hurt the good people. The people that need to adhere to these won’t because they don’t care in the first place. Just for the record, I’m not bashing you here, just added a different perspective to think about.

      Suggest Removal

  • happyGoLucky

    Never fear, Mike Duman is about to submit a proposal to build a “Doggy” Hilton with a million dollar doggy gazebo for canine entertainment. Oh…and probably a fountain that they can add colors to so they can commemorate doggy heart month and saint dash-hound day or something..who knows.

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  • justwondering

    OH YEAH I GUESS THEY DIDNT THINK AS FAR WHEN THE DOGS START DIGGING THEIR WAY OUT AND TAKING A CHUNK OUT OF PEOPLE OR JUST WONDERING AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD…WELL AT LEAST ANIMAL CONTROL WORKERS JOBS WONT BE THREATNED THATS A PLUS FOR ME…..

    Suggest Removal

  • justwondering

    all dogs chained are not negletcted…..if some prefer to have house pets thats fine but others shouldnt be forced to do so…..these laws are getting out of hand……guess i will be fined if i cant get a free waste of tax payers money fence….STUPID CONTROL OF PERSONAL OPINION THATS ALL…..

    Suggest Removal

  • NP

    Great, a whole hour discussing this plus time spent in the past. So, how’s that budget coming along? What is happening on 58? What about the potholes on city streets that have not been patched? I can think of many other things that council should be addressing besides wasting a bunch of time on dog tethering. Nice distraction from the real issues Mike and the rest of council!

    Suggest Removal

  • cbtb628

    this is a great idea! we see this all the time…animals chained up and neglected! Time to defend the helpless animals!

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  • Jill

    So where are all the particulars about this? When will they be posted?

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