Right choice on tethering

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, March 21, 2013

It might not have been the result that City Council member Mike Duman was looking for when he proposed a new law to limit tethering of dogs within Suffolk, but the decision by City Council to ban the practice altogether was the appropriate one and the only one that made sense from an enforcement standpoint.

Duman had proposed that council set a limit of 10 hours a day for dogs to be chained up outside, reasoning that some owners leave their dogs tied up outside while they are away at work and then unchain them and take them inside when they get home again.

The problem with such a partial measure is that it would have proved nearly impossible for police to enforce the law. How could they prove a dog had been chained for more than 10 hours straight without someone on hand to witness the entire 10-hour stretch? Would there have been limits on the size of the chain or collar in relation to the size of the dog? Measuring those items would have been onerous to an already-strapped police force. Would owners have been held accountable for lack of shelter, food or water when the dogs were chained? Would such an ordinance have taken account for poor weather conditions?

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Those are the kinds of questions police and animal control officers should not have to answer when they’re making their rounds. Council wisely chose to not put officers in that position.

The remaining choices were to continue to allow tethering with only the state’s slim guidelines or to outlaw it altogether. Council members chose the latter option. The new law will surely cause some animal owners a level of frustration they have not experienced before. But by choosing to ban tethering, City Council members showed themselves to be compassionate advocates for animals in Suffolk.