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Commissioners Put Limit on How Long Animals Can be Chained


June 30, 2004, LAWRENCE, KS--Pet owners will be prohibited from chaining their dogs all day under an ordinance given unanimous initial approval Tuesday by the Lawrence City Commission. "This commission's intention is to make this a safer community for all of us who live here, dog owners and non-dog owners," Commissioner David Schauner said.

The decision came after more than an hour of testimony, mostly from supporters of the ordinance, who said that continuous tethering was cruel to animals. "There is nothing in nature that prepares a dog to be chained and tethered for a lifetime," said Midge Grinstead, director of the Lawrence Humane Society, who showed a series of pictures that included a local dog that had strangled itself on its tether.

But there was opposition to the ordinance. "The way it's written now, I'm worried it could discriminate against all dog owners who keep their pets outside," said Mary Wendt, a Lawrence ordinance. The proposed ordinance -- based on one passed last year in Wichita -- would prohibit people from keeping a dog chained for more than one hour at a time, for a maximum of three hours a day, with required three-hour breaks between chainings. Violations would result in a minimum fine of $100, and the municipal judge would have the authority to sentence violators to six months in jail.

Commissioner David Dunfield expressed concern about the short time a dog could be tethered before its owner ran afoul of the law. "This is about dogs who live on chains," he said. "The difference between ‘continuous' and ‘one hour' is pretty dramatic." Advocates said the time limit would make the ordinance easier to enforce, so that animal control officers could more easily determine violations. "This ordinance is in no way intended to keep people from chaining up their dogs outside on a nice day," said Ann Wilson, chair of the Lawrence Anti-Tethering Committee. Final approval of the ordinance is expected in the next two weeks. Enforcement could begin in mid-July.