SEMINOLE — Council members here are urging every government in the state to follow their lead by banning dog tethering.
The Seminole council unanimously passed a resolution at its Jan. 12 meeting to send all Florida governments a copy of the ordinance it passed late last year that bans dog tethering in the city. Under the rule, it is illegal to tether a dog unless a responsible person is present and other requirements are met. Chronic offenders risk stiff fines and a jail sentence.
The decision to urge the rest of the state to ban dog tethering was something of a surprise. Last year, council members agreed they would urge all other Pinellas governments to adopt the rules. But when it came time to vote on the resolution, Seminole council member Dan Hester, who has spearheaded the drive, said he wanted to expand the campaign statewide.
"You need a thimble of compassion and a functioning brain to understand that this is a good thing," Hester said. "If you lack either one of those, that's (the only way) you can oppose this."
Council member Leslie Waters seconded Hester's motion and said she had already begun to encourage the passage of antitethering laws statewide. She had contacted the Suncoast League of Cities to suggest that they have a representative from the SPCA and Hester address League members at the next meeting.
Waters, a former state representative and speaker pro tem of the state House of Representatives, said she had also contacted legislators about sponsoring a bill to ban the practice in Florida.
Waters said the issue isn't just about the humane treatment of dogs; it's a safety issue for humans. Tethered dogs, she said, tend to become vicious, and banning tethering could prevent bites or worse.
"It breeds angry, mean animals," Waters said. "If I was chained and tethered, I wouldn't be too happy when I got off (the rope)."
Seminole council member Patricia Plantamura wondered how much it would cost to send out letters to all Florida governments. Virtually nothing, said City Manager Frank Edmunds; the information would be e-mailed,
"The money that we spend, if we save just one animal, it would be worth it," said Mayor Jimmy Johnson.
Edmunds said the city already has received requests about the rule from Gulfport, Largo and Clearwater. Lee County also has requested information. Pinellas County Commissioners John Morroni and Neil Brickfield have asked county staffers to study the issue.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8450.