WUFT News

Marion County Bans 24/7 Tethering Of Dogs

By on April 3rd, 2014
More than 250 people were in attendance at April 1 meeting where dog tethering was addressed.

Christine Casey/ WUFT News

More than 250 people were in attendance at the April 1 meeting where dog tethering was addressed.

Marion County dogs can no longer be left unattended and tethered for extended periods of time.

The Marion County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance 3 to 2 that will ban 24/7 unattended tethering of dogs. The April 1 vote resulted in the amendment of Chapter 4 of the Marion County Code of Ordinances. This chapter addresses animal control and enforcement.

Jaye Perrett, a former Marion County deputy sheriff in charge of the animal cruelty division, said it will be nearly impossible to enforce this ordinance.

“How are they going to know how long that dog has been on the chain?” Perrett said.

The ordinance allows for tethering for 30-minute increments. In addition, there is no limit on the number of times a dog can be tethered in a day.

Dogs tethered on agricultural and working farms are excluded from the ordinance.

First-time violators will receive a warning. Subsequent violations can result in fines up to $500. This fine is based on section 4-18 of the Marion County Code of Ordinances.

Many people who spoke were opposed to any periods of tethering. Greg Graham, the Ocala chief of police, said loopholes or time constraints will “water down” the ordinance.

Linda Norman, a board member for the Humane Society of Marion County, began fighting against tethering in 2011.

In October of 2013, the commission appointed a seven-member Blue Ribbon Task Force to determine the adequacy of the current laws. The task force presented its findings on Feb. 4, 2014.

WUFT began covering this story in February. 

“In the end, we agreed 6-1 on two things,” Norman said. “Twenty-four hour continuous tethering is inherently cruel and that there should be a ban on unattended tethering.”

The original task force proposal allowed for tethering if either the dog was in visible range of the owner or if it was temporarily tethered while the owner remained on the premises. The proposal also required the dog to be spayed or neutered.

Bruce Fishalow, the executive director of the Humane Society of Marion County and a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, said he thinks the proposal was circumstantial and subject to animal services’ individual opinions.

“This is an ordinance where it begs for discretion,” Fishalow said. “We don’t want to go after the little old lady who tethers her dog for a little while.”

The task force was told the board of commissioners would look over the proposal and submit questions and recommendations. Norman, who is also serving on the task force, said members heard nothing from the board.

On March 4, Commissioner David Moore motioned for a public hearing to discuss the issue. He was met with silence, and the motion failed.

Norman said the community was outraged because the commissioners ignored its own Blue Ribbon Task Force.

After seeing the push back, the commissioners assigned the county attorney to consider the task force’s proposal at the March 18 meeting.

Matthew Minter, the county attorney, suggested two changes to make the ordinance more enforceable: eliminating the spaying or neutering requirement and defining the term “temporary” as an hour and a half, allowing for half-hour breaks between tethering. The original task force proposal had not defined the period of time animals could be temporarily tethered for.

Kerry Crawford, the chairman of the task force, said he understood why Minter proposed the amendments.

“I presume that what he was trying to do was put a small enough time frame to define what temporary meant,” Crawford said. “He’s looking at it from a forcibility and legal stand point.”

Supporting materials from the April 1 meeting show how the spaying and neutering aspect of the ordinance remained unchanged. Section 4-15 of the Marion County Code of Ordinances mentions the county’s commitment to providing affordable spay/neuter services, as well as partnering with the humane society.

The passed ordinance also chose to limit the tethering period to 30 minutes instead of the 90 minutes suggested by Minter.

After the meeting, Crawford shared his thoughts about the potential effectiveness of this new ordinance.

“It remains to be seen; I just hope people don’t abuse it,” Crawford said.


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

    Do they define tethering? A dog with on a few feet of rope or chain is in a different predicament than one that has 12 or more feet to roam. Does the animal have access to water and shade? Some people do not have the means to provide fencing and the animal may not be housebroken or may cause damage if left alone. Just my thoughts but if the animal has to be tethered most of the time the owner should look for someone else to care for the animal.

    • http://buzzc.proboards.com/ Julius B. Carey

      If one can’t afford a nice sizable kennel then one has no business with an outdoor pup. That’s a kennel with a doghouse for the elements too…

  • Defend Liberty

    A nation of merit is devoid of liberty because it is controlled by those choice architects who decide which tasks have merit, which chores should be performed, and who has the power to plunder whom.

 

More Stories in Local

Five New Hotels May Spell Trouble for Gainesville Hotels

Five new hotels will open in Gainesville over the next few years: the Hotel Indigo, the Hyatt, the Element, a Home2 Suites and a TownePlace Suites. The influx has some people concerned about the consequences for existing hotels and the [...]


Champions Park Brings New Name and New Expectations

Champions Park, formerly known as Nations Park, hopes to increase tourism after replacing the management director of the park and updating the contract to include new requirements.


StatGNV, a database recently launched by the city of Gainesville, aims to provide more data and statistics to the general public. The program was developed by Socrata Inc., a cloud software company.

Gainesville Provides Information to Public Through New Database

Gainesville took another step towards increasing government transparency through the soft launch of statGNV. The new database aims to provide more data and statistics to the general public.


Community members take part in a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Sept. 11.

Candlelight Vigil Brings Awareness to Discrimination After 9/11

Student organizations at the University of Florida organized a candlelight vigil in honor of Sept. 11 and the victims of the attacks thirteen years ago. These students shared their own stories of the backlash that followed the attacks.


Dog walk donated to Alachua County Animal Services by local Girl Scou

Alachua County Animal Services Receives New Agility Equipment from Girl Scout

A local Girl Scout donated agility equipment to Alachua County Animal Services. The equipment assists volunteers with training dogs in skills that make them more adoptable.


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
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments