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Citrus County Considers Anti-Tethering Law

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 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.

With temperatures in the upper 90's, the dog days of summer are here.

As the temperature rises, so do safety concerns. Not just for people, but for dogs too.

“Dogs unfortunately are dying of heat exhaustion everyday in this country, especially in the southern states,” said Denise Cohn, the CEO of Dogs Deserve Better, a national K-9 animal welfare organization that focuses primarily on getting dogs off of chains and into homes. “There’s not enough animal control officers and police officers to be able to go to house to house to house and make (pet owners) bring their dogs in and make them give them water and get them out of the 105 F heat.”

Citrus County Commissioners unanimously agreed June 28 to consider an ordinance that would outlaw the unattended chaining or tethering of dogs.

“It’s definitely an issue that’s dear to many, many people in our county’s hearts,” Scott Carnahan, a Citrus County Commissioner, said.

He presented the ordinance, which is similar to one passed this May in Hernando County that also requires pet owners to keep dogs safe in extreme weather conditions.

“It’s a public safety issue," Carnahan said. "When an animal is tethered, they get very territorial and they get very defensive."

When a dog is tethered, they are no longer the social pack animals they are suppose to be. In a nurturing environment, a dog finds a pack and becomes part of the family, Cohn said.

“Dogs are social animals, and if you tether a dog, they’re not socialized with people, they’re not socialized with other animals,” Cohn said. “Because they’re all alone with their tree or their pole or whatever it is, they can become very territorial of that space because it’s all they have in the world.”

Considering the ordinance was just the first step, it will be discussed again at the next Citrus County public meeting Tuesday.

“(County Commissioners) will bring it up again and talk briefly to vote to bring it to a public ordinance. I see it passing unanimously there,” Carnahan said. “Hopefully, the commissioners will pass an ordinance to go to public hearing.”

Cohn applauds the people of Citrus who are making a difference in their county.

She encourages people in other counties to reach out to municipal leaders and bring about change.

“Piece by piece and town by town and city by city, it’s changing across the country," Cohn said. "We would love to have a national law that forbids tethering, but it doesn’t happen that way. You have to go city by city. It’s getting there, slowly, but it’s getting there."

Alexa is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.