Fences Are Better Than Chains

Sep. 25, 2013 @ 08:32 PM

As they prepare a code banning dog tethering,  a county committee also is considering fencing and other incentive plans to encourage owners to unchain their pets. 
Guilford County could join communities across the country banning unattended dog tethering if the Board of Commissioners adopts the new code. The committee has been working on the issue since 2010. Commissioners could see the proposed ban and hear an incentives discussion in the next couple of months.
The proposed ban would affect pet owners in Greensboro, the unincorporated areas and small towns surrounding High Point, but not High Point residents. Each municipality would have to approve a code change to allow animal control officers to issue citations following a complaint.
If passed, the new code would take effect over a nearly two-year period during which violators would get warnings. That’s when county leaders could call on nonprofit groups to offer yard fencing and dog runs, especially in apartment complexes, so that owners could unchain their dogs.
“We need a plan to help people during this transition,” Marsha Williams, Guilford County Animal Shelter director, said Wednesday during a committee meeting. “A landlord may not put in a fence and we may need permission to put in a dog run.”
Across the country, nonprofit groups have offered labor and donated supplies to build fences for dog owners who can’t afford them.
“But we can’t put up a fence for everyone who agrees not to tether the dog,” said committee member Frankie Heath, a 30-year dog rescue veteran who operates People & Paws 4 Hope. “If you agree not to tether, you also may have to agree to spay or neuter the dog and agree to all the vaccinations.”
More than 100 communities in more than 30 states have passed laws regulating tethering. Officials in the town of Davidson banned unattended tethering last year. Durham has a total ban.
“We need to make this as simple as possible,” said committee member Carl Ashby of Greensboro, who has been active in the Carolina Kennel Club. “We have to address the socio-economics. These issues are cultural with many people. Different communities think differently.”
The code is aimed at reducing the number of dog attacks and the number of roving animals that go to the county animal shelter.
“We have to stress public safety and the decrease in the cost of animal control that other communities have seen,”  Heath said.
Tethering can make dogs more aggressive, according to the Humane Society. Last year,  there were 38 fatal dog attacks in the United States. Half of the victims were children. North Carolina and California tied for first place with four deaths each from dog attacks, according to DogsBite.org.
Some tethering opponents say they should be able to do what they want with their pets, especially if they are breeding them.  The proposed code would allow farmers to tether dogs while at work and handlers to restrain dogs during shows. Campers could also tether dogs.  In all cases, owners must be within visual range of their pets.
Eventually, animal cruelty penalties would apply and owners could lose their animals after repeated tethering complaints.

Tethering

Codes: Forsyth County passed a strict tethering ordinance that went into effect this month. The ordinance is complaint driven and violators will receive a $50 citation. High Point allows unattended dog tethering. There are no state laws regulating pet tethering.

Results: Scotland County officials reported that the number of dog bites dropped from 48 the year before a tethering ban to 28 two years after.