Thursday, November 23, 2017
Editorials

No reason not to act to curb animal cruelty

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Ten months after scuttling a planned animal cruelty ordinance, Pasco commissioners are poised to again consider banning the tethering of dogs. The discussion, originally listed for Tuesday's commission meeting, is now slated for Sept. 25. The proposed ordinance, which county staff has spent nearly three years developing, shouldn't be subjected to further unnecessary delays. It is a well-intentioned proposal to promote humane treatment of animals and commissioners should embrace it.

It would be a welcome reversal from a December 2011 hearing in which commissioners caved to objections from people identifying themselves as "hobby breeders.'' Those speakers objected to provisions controlling unsanitary breeding conditions and prohibiting animal sales at flea markets, but they bandied about undocumented evidence that the rules would cost the county tourists, promote neighborhood disputes and be subjected to a legal challenge.

The obfuscation, unfortunately, derailed the proposed ordinance's most imperative objective: forbidding owners from tying an unattended dog to any tree, post or structure. That inhumane practice poses a danger to animals and the public alike.

Animal Services director John Maley previously told commissioners about an unattended tethered dog that died of strangulation after running around the tree several times. Attaching unattended dogs to chains and other restraints also leads to more aggressive behavior from the animals, forcing them to defend their territory rather than flee an intrusion. That message was reinforced Tuesday by an animal advocate who inventoried six injuries and one death attributed to attacks by chained dogs or by animals that had gotten loose from their chains.

Pinellas County and scores of other communities (including the state of California) prohibit tethering of dogs. Pasco County should follow suit and expedite this ordinance as a reasonable way to curb potential animal abuse.

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