WUFT News

Marion Group Seeks to Unleash Tethered Dogs

By on February 3rd, 2014
Snowman walks around while attached to a tree in front of an abandoned house. He is tethered to the tree 24/7, and his owner said he comes by to feed him once a day.

Taylor Gaines / WUFT

Snowman walks around while attached to a tree in front of an abandoned house. He is tethered to the tree 24/7, and his owner said he comes by to feed him once a day.

Snowman lives his life in about a 15-foot radius. His owner visits and feeds him once a day. Besides this, he has little to no interaction with people, let alone other dogs.

About a half mile off Florida State Road 326 in Ocala, at an abandoned house on a dirt road, Snowman eats, drinks and sleeps.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, he is there.

The Marion County Board of County Commissioners will hear the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tethering Tuesday morning in Ocala at the County Commission offices. The task force was organized in October to investigate the adequacy of the current tethering laws.

Linda Norman, a board member for the Marion County Humane Society, said the organization has been fighting for about three years to ban tethering of dogs like Snowman that are chained up at one place all the time.

Norman, who is also a member of the seven-person task force, said it is important to find a way to ban cruel tethering without unfairly burdening all dog owners.

She said the task force will recommend for owners to be outside and within eye sight of the tethered dog, effectively prohibiting 24/7 and vacant-property tethering.

If someone needed to tether their dog to complete a temporary task, it would be allowed if the owner was still on the premises, she said.

“This is aimed at irresponsible dog owners,” Norman said. “The mom who’s cooking dinner or taking in groceries and tethering her dog temporarily is not the irresponsible dog owner.”

The recommendation also includes prohibiting dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered from being tethered, she said.

Trevor Johnson, the owner of Snowman and the abandoned home, visits and feeds his dog every day. He said Snowman stays at the vacant lot because his family has too many animals at home.

He doesn’t understand why owners like him are being targeted for the way they take care of their dogs.

“You’ve got people that got plenty of dogs, pit bulls, 50 pit bulls in their back yard and all that,” he said. “You think my family, we just gonna tie a stray dog up and don’t water him, don’t feed him?”

Although he’s had Snowman for about three years, Johnson said if a new ordinance were to go into effect — creating hefty fines or penalties for 24/7 tethering — he would have to part ways with the dog.

Johnson said he has always leashed his dogs and Snowman doesn’t suffer any ill effects from tethering.

However, Norman said tethered dogs often cope with anxiety and pent-up energy by becoming extremely territorial of the small space in which they are confined, making tethering a public safety issue as well as a cruelty one.

Norman talked about an incident in 2010 when 3-year-old Violet Haaker was killed by her family’s tethered pit bull. Her mother had gone inside and the girl got tangled up in the dog’s chain.

“The dog can only do one of two things,” Norman said. “He can either fight, or he can flee. Well, when he’s on the end of the chain, he can’t flee.”

Fatal dog bites are rare, between 20 and 30 per year in the United States, Norman said. More than 70 percent of the deaths are children because they can’t read the signs of an aggressive dog.

Kerry Crawford, chairman of the task force, said it was important to have the recommendation be feasibly enforceable since tethering offenses are complaint driven. However, he said they didn’t want to force people to spend money with their final recommendation by requiring fences or something similar.

“You don’t want to create a situation where you’re causing a responsible dog owner to suffer because of irresponsible dog owners,” he said.

Norman, who originally brought the issue to the county commission in 2010, said the humane society had a lot of support for banning tethering, garnering 1,800 signatures on a petition in October and receiving almost 2,000 support letters and emails.

After the meeting on Feb. 4, Norman expects the issue to move to a public hearing where it will be one step closer to becoming an ordinance. She said she trusts the county commission because there are no partisan politics that can interfere with animal care.

“Dogs don’t have any political affiliation,” Norman said. “They’re not Republican, and they’re not Democrat. It’s just the right thing to do.”



This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

The band members of Guts, from left to right: Kara Smith, bass and vocals; Samantha Jones, guitar, bass, drums and vocals; Kentucky Costellow, drums; and Rebecca Butler, keys and tenor ukulele. Guts plays for campers in the Gainesville Girls Rock Camp on Friday after lunch. The camp, which is in its third year, focuses on using music to empower young girls. Christine Preston / WUFT News

Rock Camp Empowers Young Girls In Gainesville

The Gainesville Girls Rock Camp uses music to empower young girls and teens. Girls gain self-confidence throughout the program and learn to encourage each another.


Signs indicating unsafe levels of bacteria in Hogtown Creek were posted in June, according to Linda Demetropoulos, nature manager of the city of Gainesville Parks Department. Visitors can find these signs around various areas of local parks.

Hogtown Creek Bacteria Levels Unsafe For Human Use

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department has found unsafe levels of bacteria in Hogtown Creek waters.


I-75 at MM385 is backed up due to manhunt. Photo via @GACSmarttraffic.

I-75 Shut Down After Trooper Involved In Shooting

Update 7/27/2015 at 7:15 p.m.: The suspect has been identified as Earl Jackson, according to a news release from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.


Kristen Hadeed, founder of Student Maid, and Rich Blaser, co-founder of Infinite Energy, explain how Josh impacted the start-up community in Gainesville. They were part of a group of young entrepreneurs in Gainesville who met monthly to discuss their work.

Memorial Held for Gainesville Entrepreneur

A memorial for Josh Greenberg, the co-founder of music streaming service Grooveshark, was held Friday evening at the Phillips Center. He was found dead in his home July 19.


Gainesville Pictures 467

Lupus Patient Starts Support Group in Gainesville

Adoabi Ugochukwu, 22, was diagnosed with lupus at 15 years old. Now, she’s planning on starting a support group in Gainesville for lupus patients.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments