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Lawmakers shoot down limit on dog tethering

By Brian maffly

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 25 2013 06:25PM
Updated Mar 11, 2013 10:28PM

A bill to ban tethering dogs for more than 10 hours a day was promptly euthanized Monday after a legislative panel declined on a party-line vote to advance it to the Senate floor.

Sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, SB92 would have made excessive tethering a misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine. It also imposed requirements on the size, weight and length of the chains used to tether pets.

"I don’t have a lot of patience with this bill," Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, told Davis in a hearing before the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee. "The animal-rights movement is one of the biggest scams this county has ever seen. Tethering is often necessary."

There is no statewide restriction on dog tethers, although some cities and the unincorporated parts of Salt Lake County do have rules, according to April Harris, who supervises the county’s Animal Control Division.

"We support this. It doesn’t mean we’re going to go and issue citations, but it offers an opportunity to talk to the people about why their animals are tethered and what the problems are with tethering long term," Harris said. Proponents said tethers can injure even strangle dogs, and excessive isolation can make them neurotic and aggressive.

But others testified against the bill including leaders of the Utah Houndsmen Association and the Utah Veterinary Medicine Association, arguing that tethering is not an indication that a dog is being mistreated. They also said such a law would not be enforceable and there are already statutes to safeguard pets’ welfare.

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