December 4, 2010

MOCO Committee Recommends Amendments to Dog Tethering Regulation

ROCKVILLE, Md., December 3, 2010—The Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee on Thursday, Dec. 2, recommended several amendments to Executive Regulation 10-10 that as originally proposed would have required dog owners to stay in the visual range of their tethered dogs. The committee’s recommendations aim to simultaneously provide adequate anti-cruelty protections for dogs and maintain a safe environment for County residents. The Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Phil Andrews and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, decided not to support aspects of County Executive Isiah Leggett’s original proposal that tightened tethering regulations. Because the committee deemed that requiring dog owners to stay outside and within visual contact of the dog was unreasonable, it made its own recommendations for how best to protect the public and the animals. The proposed amendments were as follows: • Dogs could only be tethered between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. • Dogs could only be tethered for a maximum of two hours per day • No dog could be tethered between 8 p.m. – 8 a.m. • Owners must use swivels at the ends of the tether to avoid the dog’s entanglement “Our main concern is that if a dog is tethered in a cruel or harmful way, it is not only detrimental to the dog’s well being, but it also jeopardizes public safety,” Councilmember Andrews said. “A dog that has been treated cruelly will have a bad temperament, which will consequently endanger the public.” In addition to the provisions about staying within visual contact of a tethered dog, Executive Regulation 10-10 outlined the safe transportation of dogs, the sufficient shelter parameters and the conditions under which dogs may be tied to a stationary or immobile object. In 2009, residents reported to Animal Control 116 cases related to tethering violations. Animal Control also found unlawful tethering violations through calls related to other animal welfare violations. Since 2002, when the County adopted its first regulations regarding tethering, owners have been banned from continuously tethering their dogs, especially during certain hours of the night. Councilmember Andrews supported additional limits on the number of hours per day that a dog could stay tethered. Outside dogs must have shelters that allow them to stand up and turn around while inside, but still allow them to warm the interior of the structure and retain their body heat. Furthermore, outdoor enclosures for dogs must be at least 100 square feet, except that dogs over 80 pounds must have at least 150 square feet. An additional 50 feet is required for each additional dog kept within the same enclosed area. Owners must maintain the area in a sanitary condition and keep it free from debris or stored material. The regulation also specifies that no cat may be tethered, chained, fastened, tied or restrained to a house, tree, fence or other object. The Public Safety Committee’s recommendations on the proposed regulation will be considered by the full Council at a later date.

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