No growling after one-year anniversary of anti-tethering law passes

There’s no growling heard as the one-year anniversary for the anti-tethering ordinance passed in Collier County. But has the ordinance worked to curb the number of dogs chained outside for too long?

According to officials in Collier County and the National Dogs Deserve Better Organization, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

“It’s going just fine,” said Amanda Townsend, director of Collier County Domestic Animal Services, of the ordinance enacted by Collier County Commission on Jan. 26, 2010. The anti-tethering provision was one part of a larger Collier County animal control ordinance.

Townsend credits community members for calling in infractions when dogs are left outside unattended on chains or tethers.

“We find ways to help people to come into compliance, when we get a call to check on the condition of a dog,” she said.

The ordinance is simple to comply with, and Townsend noted a host of conditions to be considered as an infraction against a dog owner.

“The most important part is the animal cannot be unattended. If you want to put Sparky on a tether, while you’re outside at a party, or you’re outside gardening, or barbecuing, that is acceptable,” she said, but added that Sparky must also have a bowl of water close by, and the tether, or chain, must weigh no more than one-eighth of the dog’s weight.

However, the introduction of the ordinance has not curbed the numbers of dogs running loose in Golden Gate Estates. For Commissioner Jim Colletta, his district has experienced a surge in reports of dog attacks to both humans and livestock last year.

“Some people think it’s alright to let their dog out the front door to roam,” said Colleta as he commuted from a recent meeting in Immokalee. “Obviously, it’s been remarkably quiet with tethered dogs, but there is still a problem with dogs not confined to yards. We have to deal with a lot of that.”

But Belen Brisco, a volunteer with the Southwest Florida Chapter of Dogs Deserve Better, says community teamwork is key to helping dogs live better lives both in Collier and Lee counties. She dedicates hundreds of hours in community outreach to educate dog owners of the psychological impacts of chaining dogs outside, which ultimately leads to more aggressive animal behaviors.

“I do believe that we can all make a difference, when we pay attention to what goes on around us, and get involved. We depend on residents to make the calls when they see an animal that needs help. When the law went into effect, many people called in for assistance, and we were more than happy to help,” Brisco acknowledged of the many callers who served to reduce numbers of dogs left alone, or chained outside for too long. Brisco is currently working with Lee County to ensure an anti-tethering ordinance is passed there.

Beyond her work with Dogs Deserve Better Organization of Southwest Florida, and anti-tethering advocacy, Brisco dedicates her time to rehabilitating neglected and abused dogs in the Lee County Cell Dog Program, which are trained by K-9's Come First.

“It’s a wonderful program where select inmates are training dogs that are coming from Gulf Coast Humane Society and Lee County Animal Services in Fort Myers,” Brisco explained of the program, where dogs and their trainers are put through a series of training exercises to socialize the dogs again to learn better manners for return to an adoptive home. “We’re always looking for foster homes for these dogs, and we hope that people will ask about these dogs to consider them for adoption.”

For questions concerning Collier County Anti-Tethering Ordinance, call Domestic Animal Services at 252-PETS.

To become involved in national advocacy for anti-tethering and anti-chaining for dogs, go to www.dogsdeservebetter.org or call Belen Brisco at (239) 247-2080 to volunteer or to foster a dog.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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