Activist wants Hillsborough to forbid pet owners from keeping their animals chained outside

08/19/10 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

5 January 2010 update: Hillsborough County wants you to weigh in online

Should Hillsborough County forbid pet owners from keeping their animals chained outside? One community activist, Barbara LaPresti, is gathering signatures to present the County Commission in support of an anti-tethering ordinance.

“The petition is calling for Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners to consider a non-tethering -- the word tethering means an anti-chaining -- of dogs in Hillsborough County. This type of ordinance has already been enacted in other cities, in other counties, throughout Florida, as well as throughout the United States.”

What are some issues with tethering? Why is it bad for people to have their dogs on a leash?

“That’s a good question. First of all, the dogs are exposed to the elements. Typically dogs that are chained up are dogs that are exposed to wasps, flee, heartworm, snakebites, the elements of the weather. For instance, here in Florida, we have so many harsh thunderstorms. When they’re chained up, they’re often without adequate shelter. So, these dogs need someone to come forward for them, no their behalf and be a voice for them.”

You were telling me there was one particular case that really got you interested in this. What was that?

“There was, yeah. It’s a situation, for the last few years, everyday I drive by the same dogs that are chained up. And one dog, in particular, really caught my eye because he is on a very short chain, in a yard that is fenced in. It’s kind of an oxymoron that he’s chained up, but his situation is such that he never had a water bowl and he didn’t have any adequate shelter. So, being the concerned citizen that I was, I contacted animal services in the hopes that we could convince the owners to do something about this situation. Animal services gave me a case number. A couple of months went by, and I hadn’t seen any changes, so I contacted animal services again. Still, a couple moths went by. Throughout the course of a year I contacted animal services on four different occasions, regarding the same case number, and I couldn’t get any follow-up. Ultimately, I ended up writing a letter of concern the director of animal services. The director of animal services emailed me back, and he indicated that he did send an animal control officer out to the residents, the owner received four notices. At this time, due to the budget constraints, that was all that they could do. And they would try to follow up with the situation, in the future. So, that dog still remains on that short chain, exposed to all the elements of the weather, and outside bugs, and rodents, and so forth. It’s really tough to see that day in and day out. That’s what compelled me to do some research and see, are there other states that are perhaps doing it differently? I found out that California, Nevada, Connecticut, many, many other states that have already enacted this ordinance. Then I found out that the city of Seminole, the city of Gulfport, and also Miami Dade County have enacted this ordinance. So, I feel like it’s just a matter of time before Hillsborough County will follow suit.”

If people want to help get involved, if they either want to sign the petition, or if they would like to get more involved with this, how can they contact you?

“Absolutely, they can call me on my cell phone…I’m encouraging everyone to put the link where they can sign online. There is a petition site online, where they can sign their name if they’re a resident of Hillsborough County. They can also request from me, I will send them the petitions. And if they would collect signatures, they can post that at their vet’s office, at the grooming office, wherever they can collect signatures. Ultimately, my goal is to collect a few thousand at a minimum, before I go before the board of commissioners.”

Barbara LaPresti phone: 813 494 4896

link to the petition site

comments powered by Disqus


Great job

This is such a necessary ordinance. Keep up the great work, Barbara.

Dog Lover

Bravo!! I hope you the listeners will heed your concerns and you are able to collect enough signatures.

Small Things Done With Great Love Will Change The

Forwarded To Evryone On My List And My Facebook List..


This is such an important initiative. Hard to believe that we're having to go through such a campaign to get an ordinance passed that seems like common humane sense - especially with the heat we're suffering through this summer. Thank you for dedicating the time to this on your show. It's so appreciated by all of us out there fighting for these helpless animals. Together, we will see this end. I've sent the petition out to over a hundred people, shared on Facebook, shared with friends.

Great Cause!

Thanks for addressing this. Dogs are sentient domestic beings who deserve basic respect & rights. I'll sign the petition & forward it. Keep up the righteous work Barbara, & WMNF!


Good luck with this very important campaign and thank you for pursuing this very important cause. I have signed the petition It is inhumane to treat any animal in this manner not to mention the hazard and nuisance it causes to the surrounding homes.

Would you want to be chained outside?

An anti-tethering ordinance is long overdue. Bad enough to chain a dog outside someplace with a temperate climate, but in a place with a sub-tropical climate like Hillsborough County it's unconscionable.


Bravo Barbara and Bravo WMNF for calling attention to this issue. Studies show that approx. 80% of chained dogs create AGGRESSIVE dogs that bite, maim, or kill! This is a PUBLIC health issue, not just an animal issue and should be taken very seriously. I have seen the dog that inspired Barb - it is absoultely disgusting that this dog is in the rain and sun day in and day out litterally laying in his own feces. Animal Services take accountablity - if you don't the people of Hillsbourough County will.

Kindness of a Dog

You can tell by the kindness of a dog how a human should be. Don Van Vliet Thank you for your kindness and generousity of spirit Barb.


It's hard to believe dogs are still being chained in this day and age, or that we even have to try to change the ordinance, surely it's common sense that we need to take care of our canine companions in the best way possible. Bravo Barbara, for all the work you are doing on their behalf of those who have no voice and no choice.

well you know who it is

It's dumb, redneck, ignorant country people. Hillbillies. Christians who consider themselves as having dominion over all things that walk or crawl on the earth. They are the ones who should be chained up!

animal protection advocate

Tethering animals equates to seeing them as merchandise, not pets. They suffer physically and mentally. Call the county commissioners at 272-5660 and express objections to tethering. With enforcement of this, complaint calls to Animal Services should eventually be reduced. Less suffering, fewer accidental litters born to tethered females, fewer bite cases, fewer barking complaints. Budget constraints should not be the excuse to allow suffering. Support the dogs and Barbara. She is devoted to helping many.

Thank you for speaking for the dogs

This is such a very important issue and I am so happy you are taking it up on you to help these poor dogs. Wish it could be a federal law prohibiting tethering so we would not have to fight the battle county by county across this continent.

Agree with reservations...

I completely agree that no dog should be left to live its life out on a chain. However, I've also read your petition, and it specifies that no dog can EVER be left tied outdoors without the owner present. I suspect this is a little beyond the abuse cases you're referring to. Of my two dogs, one happily stays by my side while I'm out in the front yard gardening, and the other will wander, so I keep the wanderer on a lead while he's in the front. The way you've written this, if I went inside for a few minutes to get a drink or refill his water, I'd be violating your recommendations. I also see a problem for smaller dogs - my sister's 7 pound Chihuahua definitely can't wear a 1" collar; it would weigh too much and be too wide for his poor little neck. I would think a better guideline would be "reasonably sized so as not to injure the dog"....of course, these are questions for the county to address, not me. Just wanted to point out a few items that seemed overzealous, and can kill a good idea.