Tethering law starts Sunday

Published 12:12am Saturday, August 31, 2013

A new ordinance set to go into effect Sunday prohibits dog owners from tying their dogs up outside unless someone is outside with the dog.

Violators of the ordinance could be found guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $250.

Suffolk Police Maj. Dean Smith said three dogs have been turned in at Suffolk Animal Control by people who did not feel they could continue to care for the dogs and heed the ordinance.

In addition, Dogs Deserve Better in Smithfield said it received a dog named Shaggy earlier this month from a Suffolk resident who was “unable to provide suitable shelter” for the dog in light of the new ordinance.

“We want to make sure the animals are well cared for,” Smith said, adding he thinks the ordinance is a good idea.

“Dogs can do unpredictable things.”

The city sent a notice to every household about the new regulation. An educational program also has been running on the city’s cable channel, Smith said.

“We certainly want to educate the public,” he said.

Smith said Animal Control officers will use their judgment in individual situations to decide whether to issue violations right away.

“If the officer finds it’s just a situation where somebody just didn’t know, then we’re certainly going to educate them, but if we continue coming back to the same situation, we’ll certainly have a criminal matter,” he said.

He also noted that state law and city code prohibit other types of animal neglect or abuse, including failing to provide enough space, food or water.

City Council passed the ban on chaining dogs in March, then amended it in June to allow animals to be tied up if someone is outside with them.

In a press release this week, the city noted that alternatives to tethering include fencing the yard, using an outside kennel or run, or using doggy daycare.

For more information, contact Suffolk Animal Care at 514-7855.

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