By Tia Lynn Lecorchick managing editor
The Madison City Council was asked to consider adopting a new city ordinance that would mandate a tethering ban, making it illegal for pet owners to tether dogs outside unattended. Animal Control Officer Cindy Weinman proposed the ban as a “progressive safety measure” that is becoming more and more popular. “It’s a progressive action that most communities are taking,” said Weinman. Weinman believes just as the city council adopted a new city ordinance to mandate a curfew for minors, so too, should the council adopt a tethering ban for dogs. “Just like we never had a child curfew in Madison until recently, but we took this progressive measure to protect our children, a ban on tethering would help protect our animals,” said Weinman. According to Weinman, dogs that are tethered outside, whether chained, in a harness, or on a runner, are more prone to aggression. Weinman explained that when a dog cannot take “flight” from a perceived danger, the dog is more likely to become stressed, aggressive and even violent. Blanton asked if dogs on runners fare any better, but Weinman said dogs on runners, or on any apparatus that renders the barriers to the dog invisible, can still lead to aggression. “It has the same effect on the dog, it leads to aggression. If the dog cannot get away from any perceived threat, it leads to aggression. The majority of bite cases we see are from dogs that have been tethered,” said Weinman. “Anytime a dog is chained to a stationary object it can lead to aggression.” Councilman Joe DiLetto offered his support for Weinman’s proposal. “I applaud your action,” said DiLetto. “I’m an anti-tether person from way, way back.” City Council members Rick Blanton and Chris Hodges expressed some concern over the financial ramifications such an ordinance would entail for Madison pet owners. “If you’re dog owner, and you don’t have a fence already, this ordinance would require pet owners to get a fence or some kind of enclosure?” asked Hodges. “I would be concerned for renters who might not be able to put up a fence. My concern, is if people rent a property, or cannot afford a fence, at some point this ordinance could force people to not be animal owners.” Weinman recommended pet owners invest in kennels as a solution for three reasons. According to Weinman, kennels are “relatively cheap,” a kennel provides visible barriers for the dog, which makes the dog feel more protected from perceived threats, and a kennel is a better deterrent to keep unknown people away from the dog. “You don’t see children climbing into a kennel,” said Weinmann. “You’d really have to try to get near a dog in kennel.” According to Weinman, there are over 400 licensed dogs in Madison, but only between 20 and 40 known incidences of unattended outside tethering. Mayor Fred Perriman asked Weinman to send her research to the council for further review before a decision could be made. “We will need some time to look over this information,” said Perriman.