Residents press Hillsborough Commissioners for anti-tethering ordinance

11/02/11 Sarah Curran
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Some Hillsborough County residents had a bone to chew with Commissioners at their meeting this morning. They are fed up with the county dragging its feet when it comes to an anti-tethering ordinance. Even though it wasn’t on today’s agenda, almost a dozen dog lovers and concerned citizens told commissioners to either come up with stricter regulations or keep dogs off the chain all together. Most, like Suzanne House are sick and tired of the ongoing battle for an anti-tethering ordinance.

“This ordinance is taking far too long to pass; been going over, and over it for a year and a half. In the meantime dogs are suffering and dying, so I ask that you please pass this ordinance as soon as possible.”

Last week an anti-tethering committee met to discuss the current proposals for the possible ban. As written it forbids tying a dog up outside for longer than 30 minutes in an 8 hour time span. But residents like Sandra Fleischmann question whether enforcing a time limit would be feasible.

“It seems you want to keep a specific amount of time for chained animals to be unattended as an option. Its been proven over and over be other counties that absolutely no time on a chain is the most affective and most easily enforced ordinance, so I am confused why you are still considering a time limit. Even the acting head of animal service told that the most easily enforced ordinance would be making anytime on a chain unattended, illegal.”

Russell Alba is a dog lover and lawyer. He says vague laws are harder to enforce.

"The common characteristic of a good statue is really, it has two common characteristics notice and enforceability and I think the problem of any kind of time limit, the absence of any kind of a time limit creates all sorts of notice issues to the citizens. Whether or not they can comply the previous speaker talked about the various difficulties in determining whether a citizen is in compliance or out of compliance with the statute. Second is enforceability and you’ve dealt with that issue. So I’m offended by the fact that the Animal advisory committee is really asking this commission to enact a bad statue. A poorly crafted statue a statute that is destined to fail and it’s destined to cast a bad light on this commission.”

No opponents to the ban spoke at the meeting. But in the past some have said a new measure is pointless due to ordinances already in place prohibiting animal abuse and cruelty. One opponent at a previous meeting questioned whether an already tight staff and budget at Animal services should be stretched to deal with such an ordinance. Critics also say the ban would adversely affect poor and working class that can’t afford to buy fences and fear leaving dogs inside all day while they work. But Commissioner Les Miller says the debate for anti-tethering ordinance needs to have a resolution, and soon.

“Make sure it’s on the agenda for the 16th. So we can discuss this and we can make a decision on this ordinance. Because obviously its been going on too long and our emails are getting filled up with suggestions and ideas and people coming up here. Its time to bring this plane in for a landing, so lets do that.”

The Anti-Tethering Subcommittee is set to discuss their proposed amendment during next Wednesday’s commission meeting. Commissioners anticipate a public hearing on the proposal the following week.

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Aren't there more important issues to address?

Really? We're wasting time debating how long we can tether a dog?