PREVIOUSLY REPORTED Discussions regarding an update to the town's current animal cruelty ordinance began during a February meeting of the Town of Smyrna's Public Safety Committee. During the meeting, Smyrna Police Lt. Norman Wood gave a presentation on the tethering of dogs and then proposed that the town create a section in the animal cruelty ordinance that bans the tethering of dogs unless the owner is out with them.
At the time, Wood and Police Chief Wil Bordley said there wasn't an issue with tethering in town; the goal was simply to prevent it. There had been one incident during a recent snow storm where an owner chained a puppy and it's mother outside and police asked the resident to put the dogs inside. Bordley said tethering could become an issue in the summer months.
"There are more than 100 communities in more than 30 states that have passed laws to regulate tethering of animals," Wood said at the meeting.
Wood said the tethering of dogs causes several issues including dogs becoming territorial and aggressive. He then showed pictures of dogs that had died as a result of tethering, including one of a dog that jumped a fence and hung there and died.
The ordinance Wood presented to the committee was based on one created by the City of Miami; he felt it best represented Smyrna. The ordinance suggests strict guidelines that include only tethering a dog while the owner is outside; it doesn't prevent putting a dog in a kennel. The ordinance also proposed strict guidelines for how to tether a dog.
The state's current law on tethering puts a ban on tethering dogs for 18 hours or more in a 24-hour period. The law also bands the tethering of young dogs or nursing mothers. Wood took issue with the state law as he felt it is hard to enforce.
The committee decided at the meeting to do further research and continue discussions at their March meeting.
WHAT'S NEW The Public Safety Committee discussed the animal cruelty ordinance again in a meeting Thursday. The group saw no other issues with the proposed ordinance and decided to send it to the town lawyer for further review.
Councilman Anthony DeFeo is the chair of the committee and said he consulted a veterinarian who said the effects of tethering can be very harmful.
"I feel very good about this," DeFeo said. "It's something that we need to do."
If the town lawyer sees no issue with the proposed ordinance, it will then go to Smyrna Town Council proposed in ordinance form to be discussed and voted on.
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