City Council Considers Penalties For Pets Tethered Outdoors

Sep 4, 2017

Columbus City Council is considering legislation creating tougher penalties for people who tether their dogs out-of-doors. 

Jim Letizia reports.  

The legislation limits the amount of time a dog may be tethered in its owner's yard, outlines the weather conditions during which canines may be tethered outside, and limits the type of restraints that may be used. Some of the violators would be charged with first-degree misdemeanors. Council member Mike Stinziano is a co-sponsor of the measure.  

"This ordinance will not outlaw tethering outright, but is an attempt to look for responsible regulations that will target those practices and manners that we know brings harm to animals.  The research is overwhelming, and I know for so many advocates what you see is very disturbing.  And so this ordinance will address those  concerns."  

Co-sponsoring council member Shannon Hardin, who is running for re-election this year, said at a public hearing last week a local businessman who is also an animal rights activist asked council to take up the measure. The advocate and others say tethered dogs are more likely to bite humans and create other nusiances. They think the proposal will lead to more humane treatment and help limit dog fighting in the city. Rachel Finney is with Columbus Humane - formerly the Capital Area Humane Society - which will enforce the measure.  

"Our agents know that it's just a matter of time until the dog's chain is embedded into the skin around its neck, causing open wounds, infection and more.  Or the chain becomes tangled, and leaves the dog unable to find shelter, reach her food, or even worse - slowly strangles her.  And dog fighters often keep ten or more dogs out in a yard, each chained out to a house or a barrel.  The ability to take action on behalf of tethered dogs will make housing dog fighting dogs extremely difficult to do, especially in groups."  

Council legislative aide John Oswalt drafted the measure, which he says brings Columbus into line with other cities.  

"22 other states have some regulations involving tethering dogs or other animals.  18 municipalities in Ohio specifically reference tethering in their general offense code, involving animals, including Akron, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.  The Ohio Revised Code however, currently has no tethering provisions.  HB 94, which would have provided comprehensive tethering regulations, was introduced first in 2015-2016, but was never considered."  

Blendon Township enacted tethering restrictions in June and the City of Delaware is considering its own measure. Council member Stinziano says he hasn’t heard any opposition to the Columbus proposal, but some have said the city should enact a grace period before citations are issued. Council hopes to approve the measure later this month.