Celebrity wants anti-chaining law

Published 10:54 pm Friday, February 15, 2013

A well-known comedienne has thrown her influence behind the fight to regulate dog chaining in Suffolk, but the City Council member who started the discussion says it’s not necessary.

Wanda Sykes, a native of Portsmouth, wrote the City Council on behalf of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, pleading for the body to enact anti-chaining laws.

“Dogs are wonderful social animals who want little more than the opportunity to curl up in a warm, comfortable place at night and receive a few scratches behind the ears and tummy rubs,” she wrote.

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“Dogs who are forced to live at the end of a chain — often with inadequate or no shelter at all — suffer from loneliness, frustration and distress. … Studies also show that chained dogs are much more likely to become aggressive and attack people.”

The City Council in January heard a presentation on the issue and decided to wait and monitor the issue for two months. But Councilman Mike Duman, who requested the initial presentation, said Thursday he believes the council will take action soon to regulate chaining.

“I believe I have garnered enough support from council,” he said. “Any outside influence, while it’s welcomed, is really not necessary.”

Virginia state code addresses dog chaining by regulating the length of the chain and the manner in which it is fastened. But Duman said at the Jan. 16 meeting it leaves too much room for interpretation and encouraged his colleagues to vote with him to create a more restrictive city ordinance.

However, most of them preferred to wait and let Police Chief Thomas Bennett report back on the situation in two months.

Bennett said his animal control officers responded to 100 calls about tethering in 2012 — less than one-fifth of one percent of their total calls. Less than a tenth of the tethering reports resulted in a violation notice being issued.

But PETA said in an emailed statement Wednesday that it responds to more dog-tethering calls in Suffolk than any other city in the area.

“It is something that hasn’t been dropped by any stretch of the imagination,” Duman said Thursday. “I am very confident I will be able to garner enough support to put us in a position to create an ordinance to address tethering. The public needs to know this is an issue we are considering, and we’re doing that without the pressure from outside folks.”