Miami-Dade County Passes Anti-Tethering Law

Update Oct. 16, 2008: The Miami-Dade County Commission has approved a new anti-tethering ordinance. 

For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below. 

Update September 15, 2008: The Miami-Dade County Commission’s Public Health and Safety Committee uanimously approved the proposed anti-tethering ordinance! The next step is a vote by the full Commission on October 7, 2008.

Dr. Sara Pizano, Director of Miami-Dade County Animal Services, was pleased, saying, "Once the item is approved, there will be a 6 month grace period to give the department an opportunity to educate the community.  If an officer finds a dog tethered, the owner will get a warning first so they have an opportunity to rectify the situation within 30 days. 

"The last thing we want to see happen is for that owner to surrender the dog to Animal Services.  As a county department, we are not permitted to recommend private businesses but we can refer people to non-profit organizations and accept donations so our goal is to provide options within our boundaries.  When the warning is given, we could also include a handout with resources for the owner." 

Dr. Pizano continued, "We need help accomplishing this ….Potential solutions include setting up dog training classes given by trainers who are donating their time or finding fencing companies who will donate fencing (this is done in other parts of the country already).  So for all of you who wanted to see this ordinance pass, please be part of the solution and commit to helping these pet owners and prevent these dogs from being surrendered to the shelter.  Many pet owners are just uneducated and need our help."

Read ALC’s original report below.

Original report: Dr. Sara Pizano, Director of Miami-Dade County Animal Services, has announced, proposed anti-tethering legislation will be considered in a public hearing by the County Commission’s Public Health and Safety Committee on September 11, 2008 at 2 p.m. EST.  Plan to attend!

The proposed ordinance has passed the first reading and if the legislation passes the committee, it could be voted on at the October 2, 2008 meeting of the county commissioners.

Click here for a copy of the proposed ordinance.

Click here to contact Miami Dade County Commissioners. Urge them to support the anti-tethering ordinance.

Talking Points for Your Letters/Faxes/Emails to County Commissioners

Tethering or chaining dogs causes them to become frustrated, neurotic and aggressive. A CDC study found chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has also declared, "Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior." Chained or tethered dogs present a danger to the community. 

Another policy consideration is the inordinate amount of time and other resources animal control must devote to answering calls about cruelly chained dogs and trying to educate pet owners about the harm that comes from this practice. If chaining and tethering is illegal, those animal control resources can be spent elsewhere.  And a ban on chaining and tethering can aid in enforcement of dog fighting laws. Law enforcement can use the ban to go after dog fighters  because many of their dogs are kept on chains.

It should be noted the USDA issued a statement in the July, 1996 Fed. Reg. "Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog’s movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog’s shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog’s movement and potentially causing injury."  Subsequently, in 1997 the USDA issued a regulation banning organizations and people subject to the AWA from continuously chaining dogs.

The City of Miami recently passed an anti-tethering ordinance. A growing number of states and local governments are moving to protect their citizens with anti-tethering laws.

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Click here for more information. And go to Dogs Deserve Better, http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/ an organization dedicated to ending the tethering and chaining of dogs.