Opinion: Tempe’s Anti-Tethering Ordinance

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By City of Tempe Councilmembers Lauren Kuby and Randy Keating

Tempe residents have demonstrated time and time again that they treasure the companion animals in their lives and in our community. This concern for animals was shown in the overwhelming support for our anti-puppy mill ordinance last year.

In service to the nearly 40,000 dogs living with Tempe families today, the Tempe City Council will vote on Dec. 14 on an anti-tethering ordinance that we hope is the first step in a larger, citywide initiative providing education and resources aimed at positive, healthy pet ownership.

 

In this ordinance, tethering refers to the tying or chaining of a dog on private property; an act that can negatively impact both the dog and the community at large. The primary goal of this ordinance is to protect the health and safety of both.

 

Tethering without appropriate supervision can be dangerous –even fatal — for dogs. Ropes and chains can become tangled around other objects in the yard, which can limit a dog’s access to food, water, or shelter, as well as cause serious injuries, choking hazards, and even death. Our Arizona weather can be extreme for a dog trapped outdoors, particularly in the heat of the summer and during monsoon season.

 

Additionally, studies have shown that dogs who spend extended time tied or chained have increased levels of frustration and territoriality that lead to increased nuisance barking and aggressive behavior. According to the Centers for Disease Control, tethered dogs are three times more likely to bite.  Fortunately, research shows us that cities with anti-tethering ordinances see decreases in both problems.

 

So what does this new ordinance actually do? Rather than banning tethering altogether, the proposed law provides for common-sense standards around the conditions under which a dog might be tethered, as well as outlines the types of equipment that are safer if a dog must be tied. General provisions include:

  • Supervision – dogs may not be tethered without someone on the property.

    Equipment – dogs may be tied to a trolley or pulley system, cable run, or tie-out stake with a swivel. No stationary objects without swivel may be used. Collars must fit well and may not be a choke, pinch, prong, or slip collar. Line must not be long enough for dog to wrap around or jump over any object which may tangle.

     

    Access – dog must have access to shade, shelter, food, and water at all times; they must have enough room to lie down comfortably and turn around.

     

    Weather – tethering of dogs is prohibited during extreme weather conditions (defined as temperatures below 45 or above 85) or the presence of a monsoon, thunderstorm, flashflood, tornado, or dust storm warning issued by any local state, or national weather authority. This temperature range coincides with federal USDA standards for outdoor housing of dogs.

The City Council understands that, when unsafe tethering occurs, it is rarely because someone does not love their dog. For that reason, we are committed to working with our local prosecutors to develop an effective diversion program that links pet owners with local partners who can provide education and training, assisting families in finding safer alternatives.

 

This ordinance will serve as a new tool for our law enforcement officers who previously had to wait for much more serious neglect or abuse laws to apply before they could intervene. Our hope is that it will also improve the lives of our four-legged family members while protecting the safety of our community.

 

Editor’s Notes

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The City of Tempe is home to Tempe Town Lake, Arizona State University and the famous Mill Avenue. Tempe has a population of more than 182,000 people, with the average resident being 28 years old. We have one of the highest education rates in the state and most of our residents work within 20 minutes of home. Get more details on our population at http://www.tempe.gov/city-hall/strategic-management-and-diversity/community-demographics-and-information
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