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County tightens leash on dog tethering

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NASHVILLE — Owners who have been tethering their dogs are now subject to a new section in Nash County’s animal control ordinance the county’s Board of Commissioners passed Monday.

Presented by Human Services Director Bill Hill and recommended by the county Human Services Board because of increased incidents of abuse, the new ordinance stipulates that no person shall tether more than five dogs simultaneously at the same location, regulates tethering devices and prohibits “chain, choke or prong collars” when tethering animals.

Except under certain conditions, the law also prohibits any dog to be “tethered at a vacant or unoccupied property unless the owner or his agent is present at the property.”

Tethered dogs, the new law states, “shall have access to adequate food, water and shelter. This includes shelter from extreme heat or near freezing temperatures, flooding, tornadoes, thunderstorms, tropical storms and hurricanes.”

The ordinance does allow the tethering and restraint of dogs “when actively engaged in organized and lawful animal activities,” including hunting, camping, obedience training, field and water training, law enforcement training, herding or shepherding livestock or “for any activity where a tethered dog is in visual range of its owner or keeper and the owner or keeper is located outside with the dog.”

During tethering, the ordinance says, any tethering device used “shall be at least 12 feet in length and attached in such manner as to prevent strangulation or other injury to the dog and entanglement with objects and shall contain swivel ends on one or both sides of the tether.”

If a cable trolley system is used for tethering, the ordinance states, the “length of the cable along with the tethering device must be at least 12 feet in length and the dog must be able to move 10 feet away from the cable perpendicularly and be attached to the dog in such a manner to prevent strangulation or other injury to the dog and entanglement with objects.”

Penalties increase with each violation under the new law.

First offenders will receive a written warning and a copy of the ordinance.

A second offense will be subject to citation and $100 fine, though if the dog is not spayed or neutered, the fine may be voided in lieu of the owner having the pet spayed or neutered by a veterinarian and providing the animal control officer documented proof within 14 days.

A third offense shall be subject to a Class 3 misdemeanor and fine of up to $250. A fourth offense shall also be subject to a Class 3 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and “forfeiture of the dog(s)” to Nash County Animal Control.

In another change to the animal control ordinance, dogs and cats exposed to animals suspected of having rabies shall be subject to existing recommendations and guidelines for rabies post-exposure management specified by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.

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