It is telling that York County animal control officials are lobbying for restrictions on tethering dogs in the county. They are the ones who have to deal day in and day out with the problem of dangerous dogs, and they ought to know what they are talking about.
Animal control officials recently addressed the council regarding the ongoing effort to update the county’s animal ordinance. They offered a proposal that would toughen restrictions on tethering but offer reasonable alternatives.
The proposed rule change would bar owners from chaining their dogs to a stationary object in their yards as their primary means of restraining them. Instead, it would require dog owners to fence in their yards, keep their dogs on a trolley system where they could run more freely or put them in a secure enclosure when the owner is not present.
County veterinarian Sonya McCathey offered a useful parallel. She noted that people who own a swimming pool are required by law to fence the area around their pools so the pools don’t pose a hazard to children – an “attractive nuisance” in legal parlance – even if pool owners have no children of their own.
Children, especially young children, might also be enticed to approach a tethered dog, not realizing that the dog could be dangerous. Dog owners need to control their animals just as pool owners need to keep children out of their yards.
Animal experts note that dogs tend to become more aggressive and dangerous when they are tethered.
A Rock Hill boy recently was hospitalized after a dog broke free of its chains, attacked him and ripped off part of his scalp.
The boy’s wounds were serious, requiring skin grafts. The dog had to be destroyed.
The proposal by county animal control officials offers sensible and affordable alternatives to tethering. Both a secure enclosed dog run and a trolley system give dogs the ability to move about and work off some frustration, while also ensuring that they can’t get loose and hurt someone.
Attitudes have changed. Society no longer tolerates dogs running loose or, at the opposite extreme, chaining them to a stake in the backyard, sometimes without water, food or shelter from the weather.
Dogs are a big responsibility that owners should not take lightly. Dogs need and deserve adequate food, shelter and medical care, all of which can be expensive.
In other words, if you are not prepared to accept that responsibility, don’t get a dog. It’s neither fair to the animal nor to one’s neighbors.
In addition to reviewing the tethering law, the council is in the midst of a long process of considering changes in the county animal ordinance. A number of those proposed changes make sense, especially a plan to incorporate language from existing state laws into the county law so animal officers have the authority to enforce them. Currently, for some calls, they have to call the sheriff’s office for assistance.
But the changes in the tethering law should be a no-brainer. Animal control officials have offered reasonable alternatives to tethering, and council members ought to approve them.
From The Herald