GULFPORT — The city has followed the lead of other municipalities in making it unlawful to keep a dog tied outside for long periods of time.
City Council voted unanimously to add a tethering ordinance at its meeting Tuesday.
The ordinance makes it illegal to tether a dog unless all these conditions are met: the owner is outside with and can see the animal, the tether is connected to a body harness or buckle-type collar not less than an inch in width, the tether is five times the length of the dog and swivels at both ends, the dog can't be strangled or injured by the tether, the dog is not outside in extreme weather, it has access to water, shelter and dry ground, the dog is at least 6 months old and not sick, a running line is at least 15 feet long and no more than 7 feet off the ground and each dog must be tethered separately.
In January, Seminole approved an antitethering ordinance and urged other communities to follow suit. Gulfport conferred with Seminole before drawing up its ordinance.
City manager Jim O'Reilly said there will be escalating fines with each citation.
The ordinance will be enforced when the Police Department receives complaints, council member Michele King said.
"Police officers aren't going to be driving around looking over fences," she said.
She also said a tethered dog is almost three times more likely to bite than a nontethered dog.
"It's a shame we have to legislate common sense," council member David Hastings said, "but in this case, we have to."
Banning the tethering of dogs is a growing trend among municipalities in Pinellas County.
Last month, a unanimous Indian Shores Town Council tentatively approved banning any tethering of dogs except when the owner is outside and within visual range of the animal. Other regulations specify the type of collar and tether that can be used, requires access to water, shelter and dry ground, and prohibits tethering sick or injured dogs or dogs younger than 6 months.
Final approval of the dog tethering ordinance is expected at Tuesday's council meeting. The council's action follows complaints in January that dogs were either tethered or allowed to run loose behind the Mahuffer beach bar on Gulf Boulevard.
Times correspondent Sheila Mullane Estrada contributed to this report.