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For the Love of the Dog

Fort Worth to Enact Anti-Tethering Ban? Video

Austin and Irving, Texas have already passed anti-tethering bans and now Fort Worth may be next to pass this much needed ban against chaining and tethering dogs.

Studies have proven that chained dogs are almost three time more likely than unchained dogs to bite. Dogs are social animals who crave interaction, love and affection. Deprived of this, they can become aggressive and dangerous.

Chained dogThe pictures were upsetting: a slit-eyed dog chained to a tree in a bare dirt yard with no way to get to food or water. Another dog kept on a chain so short it could barely move.

And those were the ones that the city animal control department felt it could show in public.

“Our animal cruelty officers encounter many examples of dog tethering that are far worse,” said Scott Hanlan, assistant public health director.

It could soon be illegal to chain or tether a dog in Fort Worth, except in limited circumstances. City Council members, who were visibly angered by the pictures, could vote on a change in the ordinance next week, including a $2,000 fine.

“I find the photographs you just showed us disturbing to say the least,” Mayor Mike Moncrief said. “I guess perhaps in my own mind the most appropriate punishment for those who choose to treat animals that way is to tether those owners themselves for a period of time.” (Star-Telegram)

Animal control will begin educating dog owners on alternatives to chaining because if the council votes the ordinance in next week it will get illegal to keep a dog tethered unless the owner is present.

Street culture

City animal control officials say part of the problem is the street culture, whose members value dogs as a status symbol. Dogfighters sometimes use heavy chains to strengthen a dog or make it more aggressive.

Suzette Watkins, who owns a kennel in the Riverside neighborhood, has taken pictures of chained animals around Fort Worth and sent them to council members and the news media.

“You look tough if you’ve got a chained, mean dog by the side of you,” she said. “It’s like a loaded gun; they don’t realize what that dog is capable of.”

Chaining dogs hurts them on several levels, Watkins said. It deprives them of exercise and keeps them from interacting with people or other dogs.

“By nature, dogs are social beings. For them to be tied up … it’s no life for a dog,” she said.

A larger problem

The issue of chained-up dogs is one facet of a citywide problem. Fort Worth officials have been trying for years to do something about irresponsible pet owners who they say contribute to the proliferation of stray and abused animals. Thousands of animals are kept without proper vaccinations, spaying or neutering, training, city licenses or a decent environment.

City animal control officers collect about 25,500 dogs and cats a year. At one point, the city had to euthanize three-fourths of those animals. The death rate is now down to about 70 percent, despite Fort Worth’s rapid population growth and an increase in the number of animals brought in. At the same time, the animal control department has been requiring people ticketed for animal violations to attend classes on proper animal care.

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