SEMINOLE — Now that city officials here have become the first in Pinellas to ban dog tethering, they want the rest of the county to follow their lead.
Seminole council members unanimously agreed Tuesday to pass a resolution to urge the county and the other 23 municipalities in Pinellas to pass rules against canine tethering. That decision came moments after Seminole's tethering ban.
Both moves won applause from many residents and animal activists who say tying up dogs is abusive and is a prime cause of biting and other vicious behaviors.
"Many animals die at the other end of the chain," said Connie Brooks, director of operations at the SPCA of Tampa Bay. "Many animals will be happy because they will not have to live at the end of a leash."
Brooks said many people think it's okay to leave a dog tied up if it has access to a bowl of water and shade. But, she said, that's not the case. She suggested humans should think about how uncomfortable it would be to be confined to a small space in 80-plus-degree weather. The water bowls, she said, are sometimes overturned or the fluid evaporates. And sometimes the dogs get tangled. They die of heat stroke or are strangled.
It's not uncommon, she said, for the SPCA to receive calls, especially in the summer, to come collect dogs that have died while tied outside.
Tying them, she said, is "not kind. It's not compassionate. It's not fair."
In addition, Brooks said, research has shown an increased aggression among dogs that are tied without companionship for long periods. Dogs are social animals, she said, and need interaction. A tied dog has no recourse but to bite if someone approaches because it is unable to flee.
By the end of the workday Thursday, the city had not cited anyone in connection with the new rule. But City Manager Frank Edmunds said code officers had been out to check a couple of addresses where they had heard dogs had been tied in yards.
The ordinance was the brainchild of council member Dan Hester, who brought Sabrina, his 12-year-old mixed-breed shelter dog, to the vote. Sabrina was tied up for long periods early in her life before Hester took her in. He said she has never fully socialized because of the early abuse, but she lay quietly in the back of the council chambers during the meeting.
Hester had said he was prompted to propose the ordinance because of some dogs he passes daily on his way to work. These dogs, who live in the unincorporated area, are tied up most of the time even though they are in a fenced yard.
Hester said he hopes the county, in particular, follows Seminole's lead in banning dog tethering so those dogs, too, can be helped.
County commissioners have already said they want to explore the possibility of passing such a rule.
Persuading all Pinellas governments to follow Seminole's lead might be difficult. Pinellas Park council member Ed Taylor said he was unaware of Seminole's interest in the issue. And although Taylor said he would be willing to have his city study the issue, he is not sure dog tethering is an urgent issue.
There may be "a few thousand things" on a list of needed items that come before dog tethering, Taylor said.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at (727) 893-8450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.