Stricter dog tethering laws to be among Bristol animal control changes

Stricter dog tethering laws, to be among changes to Bristol, TN animal control laws

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Dog owners in Bristol Tenn. may soon have to follow stricter rules when it comes to tethering their pets.

The Bristol, Tenn. City Council finished drafting possible changes to its animal control laws on Tuesday night.

They debated whether or not the allow the tethering of animals in city limits.

Michele Knight went to the work session with her service dog, Izzy.

"I hope people see Izzy and realize that she does a lot of good and that wouldn't have happened if she was a chained dog," said Knight.

Knight told us she spent 20 years as a dog trainer and saw first hand the negative effects of tethering.

"They kind of go to barking, to barking really hard, to showing their teeth, and then growling at strangers," she said. "They just get more and more aggressive."

City council members discussed the pros and cons of tethering as they reviewed a new draft of city's the animal control laws.

Council member Jack Young told us he supports tethering but that pet owners must treat their dogs right.

"Whether it's taking them on a walk, playing in the backyard with them, running around with them, getting them off the leash, letting them in the house," Young described.

They decided on a compromise by the end of the meeting.

The draft ordinance now says pet owners can only allow tether their dogs from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., unless a pet owner gets a special permit. The dogs also must be six months or older in order to be tethered.

Young told us the changes will present challenges.

"We've seen numerous information from other agencies, and other cities, and counties who have done this and the time issue does seem to be the hardest to enforce," said Young.

Despite that, the city leaders said this change is the only way to keep track of who is keeping their dog tied up for too long.

They discussed other changes to the animal control ordinances.

One adjustment includes specific explanations for how much food, water, shade and shelter outdoor dogs should be provided. It was also decided that tethering is not an appropriate method of confining a dangerous dog because some council members said it may not always work.

The council made a motion to table any rules that would make it illegal to bring dogs to city events until they can discuss that issue with Bristol, Va. leaders.

Before any of these changes can become law, they must pass a first and second reading. The first reading of the draft ordinances isn't until August. Council members decided, if the new laws are approved, they will go into effect on May 1, 2015.

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