Smyrna Town Council passed the first reading of an ordinance Monday that would, if eventually approved, regulate the tethering of dogs.
The ordinance is an item that came out of the town's Public Safety Committee and was a recommendation from Lt. Norman Wood.
The ordinance includes a six-hour time limit for tethering, requirements for tethering device compliance, periods when an animal can't be tethered, and overall conditions dog owners need to follow.
During discussions, Councilwoman Valerie White asked if council could waive the three-reading rule so the ordinance could go into effect now.
Town lawyer Barrett Edwards said technically the town could waive the three-reading rule, but preferred to wait until the next meeting so the town can include the penalties in the ordinance. Edwards said initially he thought the penalty section included the tethering penalties but it doesn't.
"I think it would be best to do a first reading and then we can incorporate the penalties and then at the next council meeting you can waive the second reading and adopt it," Edwards said.
White then asked if the town was actually going to enforce the ordinance.
"Absolutely," said Police Chief Wil Bordley. "I think this is a good ordinance to have in place."
Resident Steve Artz questioned the ordinance during public forum because he does tether his dog.
"I think like everyone else I do care about dogs and I don't want to see them abused, but I don't run a meth lab, I don't run dog fighting but I do tether my dog," Artz said. "I don't want to be made a criminal on my own property."
White said council doesn't want that either but she herself won't hesitate to call police if a resident is tethering their dog and she feels the owner isn't properly taking care of the dog.
White said the goal isn't to punish dog owners who have to tether their dog but there is a concern especially since the upcoming weather includes 92-degree temperatures. She said the town doesn't want residents to tether their dog in that kind of weather all day while the owner is at work.
"The concern is that there are different kinds of citizens and there's some that will leave their dog out there all day without water with a huge chain so they're going back and forth with nowhere to go. We don't want that to happen," White said. "As a pet owner I certainly support a tethering law and probably any other law to protect the animal."
Furthermore, White said the law is for an abusive dog owner not somebody who in good conscious is taking care of their dog.
"If you're taking good care of your dog, I wouldn't think that we would find your or arrest you."
Proposed tethering ordinance conditions
a dog is not tethered outside for a period longer than six consecutive hoursthe tethering device complies with town requirementsthe dog is tethered in such a manner as to prevent injury, strangulation or entanglement with the dog or other objectsthe dog is not outside during periods of extreme weatherthe tethering device shall allow the dog adequate access to food and water containers, shelter, and dry grounda sick or injured dog, or a puppy less six months of age cannot be tetheredany pulley, running line, or trolley systems used to tether the dog is at least 15 feet in length and is less than seven feet above the groundif there are multiple dogs tethered, they cannot come into contact with each otherEmail Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.