Outdoor Pet Tethering Ordinance (BL2015-1008) Deferred to March 3rd by Nashville Metro City Council

February 24, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
Tuesday night's meeting of the Nashville Metropolitan Council is for an important agenda item for Nashville pets and their families as well as rescue advocates.  The 3rd (and final) reading of Ordinance BL2015-1008, better known as the Outdoor Pet Tethering ordinance, is up for voting.  Many animal rescue advocates descended upon the Metropolitan Courthouse at One Public Square in support of the ordinance that is described by the following criteria providing responsible guidelines for pet owners.
For purposes of this subsection, "tether" means a cable, cord, or similar device used to attach an animal to a stationary device, but does not include chains. No person shall allow any animal to remain confined in such a manner as to unreasonably restrict the animal's ability to move. No person shall allow any dog to remain tethered unless all of the following conditions are satisfied: 
1. The tether is not unreasonably heavy in proportion to the weight of the animal.
2. A swivel is located at both ends of the tether and the tether is free of tangles.
3. The collar on the animal to which the swivel is attached is properly fitted and is a collar that is commonly recognized as a pet collar (choke and pinch collars are not permitted).
4. The tether is not less than fifteen feet in length.
5. Chains shall be prohibited for use as a tethering device.
6. The animal is not outside during a period of extreme weather, including without limitation a heat index of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (95° F) or above as determined by the National Weather Service, freezing temperatures, thunderstorms, or tornados.
7. The animal has access to water, shelter, and dry ground at all times, and has access to adequate food.
8. The animal is at least six months of age and has a current rabies vaccination.
9. The animal is not sick, injured, or in heat (estrus).
10. Pulley, running line, or trolley systems are at least fifteen feet in length and are not less than six feet above the ground. 
11. If there are multiple animals, each animal must be tethered separately.
12. The tethering device shall allow the tethered dog to lie down comfortably at all positions of tether.
Just one example of the issues this ordinance is trying to prevent for the health and safety of all pets.  (Source: Daniel McDow)
Rebecca Helwig speaking with Councilman Tony Tenpenny prior to Tuesday's Metro Council Meeting
Rather than heavy steel chains the recommendation in this ordinance is that the lighter steel cable tethers that are sheathed in a plastic wrapping are much lighter, more maneuverable and doesn't increase weight the pet must bare on their neck's to simply move around.  This ordinance is to increase the information available to the public on how to better house their pets in more ideal conditions and assistance is available to them from various organizations represented at the meeting wearing the green shirts shown above.  The shirt says "NO MORE CHAINED DOGS."  Other provisions cited by the ordinance include swivel connections at both ends of the tether to prevent tangling, no tethering outside in extreme heat or cold conditions, choke or pinch collars are not permitted, and animals must have access to adequate food, water and shelter at all times while tethered.
Rebecca Sanderson talking with Councilman Robert Duvall prior to Tuesday's Metro Council Meeting
Dogs Deserve Better, a national and award-winning nonprofit organization, is a voice for chained and penned dogs. As the days become years, many of these dogs sit, lay, eat, and defecate within the same 10-foot radius. Chained by the neck, they exist without respect, love, exercise, social interaction, and sometimes even basic nourishment. They live as prisoners, yet long to be pets.
Habitat for Paws is a nonprofit agency consisting of volunteers who desire to improve the living conditions of dogs living on chains or tethers (chained). Numerous risks to the community develop after a dog is chained or tethered more than 12 hours a day. Chained dogs often become aggressive toward people and other animals. Dogs living on the end of a chain or tethered are at risk for attacks by other animals.  Many representatives from both organizations were in attendance tonight for this very important ordinance's final reading before being motioned for approval.
Rebecca passing out bands in support of "No Chains" for Dogs Deserve Better
Members of Dogs Deserve Better and Habitat For Paws arriving for Tuesday's Metro Council Meeting
Nashville Metropolitan Council Meeting chaired by Vice Mayor & President Diane Neighbors
Volunteer Eric Pio insuring Tuesday's Council Meeting is well documented
Ordinance BL2015-1008 is now on the agenda
Pet Tethering Ordinance BL2015-1008
Video of Councilwoman Karen Bennett presenting BL2015-1008 before the Council, Councilman Duane Dominy opposes
Participants in the video include Councilwoman Karen Bennett, Councilman Duane Dominy, At-Large Councilwoman Megan Barry and Councilman Robert Duvall.
Upon hearing Councilwoman Bennett's sponsorship this ordinance Councilman Duane Dominy spoke in opposition with concerns that the ordinance does not seek to provide safer alternatives for tethering without chains.  Councilman Dominy mentioned his rescued dog named Lucy and that she "chewed through" the suggested type of metal tethers rated for a 65 lb, 100 lb, and 250 lb dogs at different times.  Dominy also requested the ordinance be amended and "come up with something that protects all animals and not just a select few."  At-Large Councilwoman Megan Barry spoke in favor of the ordinance praising Councilwoman Bennett's work for advocacy.  Councilman Robert Duvall spoke regarding a letter the Council received from The American Kennel Club that made requests and recommendations regarding this issue.  No motion was made for deferral and council members were asked to submit via machine vote on the ordinance.  When voting closed the results were 30 votes for the ordinance, 2 against.  Council member Dominy then made a motion to reconsider the ordinance with 5 council members seconding the motion.  The motion to reconsider will be heard on Tuesday March 3rd, 2015.  To view the full proceedings please visit the Nashville Metro Council's Youtube Channel.
Councilwoman Bennett speaking to volunteers after the council's decision to defer the final vote until Tuesday March 3rd, 2015
Councilwoman Bennett speaking to the media after the council's decision to defer the final vote until Tuesday March 3rd, 2015
Speaking from a rescue advocates perspective, I respectfully disagree with Councilman Dominy's opposition of this ordinance citing some inconsistencies in his argument.  While mentioning his rescued dog Lucy Councilman Dominy also mentioned she was tethered outside and that she was able to chew through three of the recommended tethers of various strengths.  Over the span of time that Lucy was able to chew through them why weren't the tethers checked for their condition and replaced if needed?  There are many alternative methods for keeping your pets safe while outside your home.  For example, Habitat For Paws will assist in building an outdoor enclosure such as a fence so tethering is no longer necessary.  I don't think all the facts have been presented to the council in this case.  One organization's recommendations are not enough to deal with this issue.  Check out the Humane Society of the United States' website article on Tethering/Chaining.  This ordinance is by no means defeated and there are a few obstacles to overcome but I do believe that calmer heads will prevail.
Want to get involved?  Contact the Nashville Metro Council Member for your district and respectfully tell them how you feel about this ordinance.  Visit the links below to learn more about abd get involved.
Nashville Metro Council Members
Nashville Metro Council Youtube Channel
Dogs Deserve Better
Habitat For Paws
Humane Society of the United States



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