Local News

Pros, cons unleashed in hearing on dog-tethering rule

Posted June 4, 2008 12:13 a.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2008 11:21 a.m. EDT

— Orange County commissioners heard long and loud Tuesday night from advocates pushing for a new ordinance to limit dog tethering and from opponents, and the controversy delayed any decisions.

The board finally ended the public hearing without a vote, likely deferring action until fall.

The hearing went late into the night as the two sides sparred over the issue.

“Tiger before was a broken dog. His spirit was broken,” said Heather Brown, with the Coalition to Unchain Dogs.

Tiger used to be chained to a 4-foot tether day and night, Brown said. The Coalition to Unchain Dogs has since built Tiger a fence. 

“His tail never stops. He's happy. He gets to run,” Brown said of Tiger's transformation.

“I am very opposed,” George Painter, president of the Eno River Coon Hunters Association, said of the amendment. “For one thing, it's an injustice."

The coalition wants Orange County to severely restrict the dog-tethering portion of its animal control ordinance to allow no more than three hours in a 24-hour period.

The amendment drawn up county staff also would specify types of collars and equipment that could be used, minimum kennel sizes, certain exemptions and an 18-month educational period after enactment.

As presented Tuesday night, the ordinance would take effect in June 2009 and would have violators issued only warnings for one year as an educational effort. Penalties would not start until 2010.

The board had ordered the amendment drawn up last November after getting the report of a tethering committee.

Officials said Wednesday that a packed agenda for the commissioners' last spring meeting and the standard summer recess meant the ordinance won't come up again before September at the earliest.

Suzanne Roy said chains pose a safety hazard to dogs and that the coalition offers to build fences for dog owners who need financial assistance.

“Oh yes, we'd be very happy to build a fence around my 12-acre property,” Painter said sarcastically of the offer.

“Well, dogs don't run on 10 acres, they're on 10-foot tethers. I mean they don't have to fence the entire property,” Roy responded.