Durham's newest ordinance, which bans owners in the city and county from tethering their dogs for prolonged periods, is just three days old. But already, it has spurred roughly 50 reports from citizens to Durham County Animal Control, Director Cindy Bailey said Monday.
Today was the first day of 2010 that Animal Control has been open, Bailey said, so officers were out in force investigating the complaints. Officers will visit any offender in 90 days to see if they have made any progress in finding alternatives to tethers and chains to contain their pets. Right now, officers are issuing warnings with a drop-dead date of June 30. Anyone in violation of the ordinance on July 1 or later could receive a citation and face fines of up to $150.
Durham County passed the controversial anti-tethering ordinance in 2008 after lengthy public hearings. Proponents of the ordinance say chained dogs are a symptom of irresponsible or abusive pet ownership, and that chained dogs can become aggressive and unsafe, have health problems and that their unhappy barking can be a public nuisance.
Opponents of the ordinance say that tethering a dog is not inhumane. They say irresponsible pet ownership overall is to blame for a dog's aggression, injury or poor health, not the method by which the dog is contained in someone's yard.
Yet others said that forcing a pet owner to build a fence or a large pen to contain a dog, instead of allowing them to use a relatively inexpensive tether, unfairly burdened low-income pet owners.
Both New Hanover and Orange counties have also passed anti-tethering ordinances. Bailey said she's received calls from all over the country from citizens and municipal officials interested in setting up anti-tethering regulations in their own towns.