published Monday, January 25th, 2010

Saying no to dog chains

City proposes setting 24-hour limit on restraining animals

by Cliff Hightower

A city ordinance could be pushed through in the next few weeks to prevent dogs from being chained for more than 24 hours.

"For a dog, it's a painful, depressing way to spend your life," said Karen Walsh, executive director of the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center.

On first reading two weeks ago, the City Council voted 8-0 to approve changes to the local animal ordinance. Councilwoman Deborah Scott abstained.

The revisions would make chaining or tethering a dog for more than 24 hours illegal. Other provisions would permit veterinarians to sell city animal licenses and collect a $2 convenience fee and pet owners to receive a one-year license waiver for spaying or neutering animals.

The ordinance updates laws on stray animals.

The current ordinance states a person keeping an animal for longer than 10 days becomes the owner.


* Dogs cannot be chained or tethered for more than 24 hours.

* Any stray animal must be taken to the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center.

* Veterinarians will be able to sell city licenses and collect a $2 convenience fee.

* Pet owners who spay or neuter their animals can get the license fee waived for one year.

Source: McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center

The proposed revisions require strays to be sent to the McKamey center. If someone wants to keep the stray, the adoption must go through the center, Ms. Walsh said.

One of the major changes is the 24-hour chain law, aimed at keeping dogs from being kept in inhumane conditions, which might make them aggressive, she said.

"It's just neglect," she said.


The current city ordinance doesn't give animal control officers authority to use the law to help rescue chained animals, Ms. Walsh said.

Now, officers can only tell owners they shouldn't tie up their dogs, Ms. Walsh said. Under the new ordinance, officers could issue a warning to the dog owner. If the complaint is repeated, officers could impound the dog and cite the owner to court, Ms. Walsh said. The maximum penalty is a $50 fine, plus court costs, she said.

"We'll have the ability to take the dog out of that situation," Ms. Walsh said.

Several dog owners who keep their pets tied up in their yards and did not want to give their names for this story said the ordinance, if passed, will lead to dogs running loose in neighborhoods.


Peter Murphy, chairman of the council's Legal and Legislative Committee, expects the ordinance to emerge from the city attorney's office and go before the council within two weeks.

Business owners already are talking with McKamey personnel about effects of the ordinance.

  • photo
    Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Some of Bill Beach's dogs come up to the fence to investigate animal services officer Brandon Bennett on Thursday morning. Brandon Bennett, an animal services officer with McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, follows up on complaints and calls about possibly neglected or abused animals on Thursday morning.

Jack Berry of All Fences said he would offer discounts to dog owners who want to build fences.

"As a dog owner, I think it's great," Mr. Berry said. "How would you like to be chained up?"

Guy Bilyeu, executive director of the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga, also supports the change. Waiving license fees for a year if an animal is spayed or neutered could be a positive incentive to hold down the animal population, he said.

Chattanooga is the only Hamilton County municipality considering a chaining ordinance, he said, but others could be lobbied.

"If it's successful in Chattanooga, we could definitely use their ordinance," he said.

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newsmedia60 said...

Why is McKamey trying to get an ordinance for dog owners when they won't even accept them when brought in off the street. Dogs running the streets are more of a threat to citizens than dogs being tied up. Animals running the streets will be the result of this ordinance if it is granted. Who will come and get these animals when the City allows them to roam? It takes forever for someone to come right now when you report a vicious animal in the neighborhood. Does it take innocent children playing in their own yards to be bitten by these animals you want to run around? And that is what will happen. These animals you do not want to be tied over 24 hours will be running the streets and causing harm to innocent citizens who in most cases, do not even own an animal. What then?

January 25, 2010 at 7:47 a.m.
KWVeteran said...

This is another move in the agenda of liberals. The BO administration is in favor of animals having the same rights in court as humans. What's next? Legalized marriage to animals? This is all a slippery slope in the name of compassion.

January 25, 2010 at 8:29 a.m.
rdecredico said...

KWVeteran: It has nothing to do with liberals, putz. It has everything to do with being humane.

Unless you are admitting that those on the right are inhumane, which is certainly a distinct possibility based upon what I see here in these comments repeatedly.

January 25, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.

Please do not include this Conservative rdecredico. I applaud McKamey and all the other shelters for what they do in a bad situation. They are not the problem, citizen-humans are. I'd like to see these lazy humans who think leaving your animal chained night and day, in cold and heat, chained up by a judges order. See if your 'feelings' are hurt. Scientific news guys. Animals feel pain, sometimes worse than we do.

In municipalities where I've lived across North America, I have never seen huge amounts of dogs running loose when there is a 'no chaining' law in effect. Right now, many people who never watch their dogs properly (chained or unchained), or have no fencing, already see their animals escaping, sometimes to be badly injured or killed on the roadways. Anything wrong in the animal kingdom usually can be traced to a 'human' problem. Fix it yourself.

If you're lazy, cheap, mean and nasty and love to take your hatred out on animals, then buzz off and find the nearest target range or go to therapy sessions. Do NOT keep animals. You do not deserve the privilege of having one of these incredible creatures the Lord made. Shame on the South for having such a huge problem of humans abusing humans and vulnerable animals. Disgusting.

January 25, 2010 at 10:09 a.m.
Soos54 said...

This isn't about animal rights or being a liberal or conservation. This is doing what is right. It's about treating other living things well, without abuse and neglect. If you take on the responisibility of owning an animal, you should be responsible for it's well being. NOT because the animal has rights, but because it's the RIGHT thing to do.

God gave us, as human beings, the ability to tell right from wrong. Because we know this difference, humans should be accountable for our actions and give consideration to something that is shared between both human and animal - the fear of and ability to suffer. Through research, we know that animals have needs and that they suffer and feel pain. For that reason, we know that it's wrong to inflict pain on them.

As social, pack animals, all dogs have a need to be around others, either canine or human. Chaining them up, with no social contact, for their entire lives is neglect and abuse.

People chain dogs up in the yards for various reasons; some just don't have the ability to put up a fence, some got a cute puppy that turned into a dog they no longer really want, and some are just looking for a cheap (albeit cruel) security system. For whatever reason, it is wrong. And since we, as human beings, have the God given ability to know and understand right from wrong, people shouldn't do it. It's just too bad that those who do lack the decency to refrain from chaining their dogs up and that we need laws and an agency like McKamey to make them stop.

January 25, 2010 at 11:04 a.m.
psych_lady said...

I would like to commend those speaking up for our four-legged friends in the commuity.....chaining a dog is cruel...anyway you look at it...even for 24 hours...they could get wraped around the tree or post where they are chained and get choked.....not to mention the frustration and hostility caused by this practice.....get a fence....get some energy...get a life!! Would you chain your best friend to a tree??Dogs are "man's best friend".My dogs are inside dogs,anyway..but if they need to be outside...get a fence!! Kudos to McKamey!!

January 25, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Why done all the McKarny loving bleeding heart, opinionated blowhards quit acting holier than thou from behind a keyboard and go out and right all the wrongs they seem to find on the internet. ALl blabber, just like the anti abortion idiots who shout the loudest but don't go adopt one single crack addicted kid and lead them down the road to a "perfect" life by their own opinion of themselves. rdecredico, bit of a hipocrite there, call someone a Putz then act in the same manor. Canary, can't cure that relious branwshing, why don't ya head back donw the coalmine for awhile, or get a job and find something to do with your life instead of spout dribble on the internet.

January 25, 2010 at 3:57 p.m.
shilohplace said...

Dogs do not need to be chained up at all. If a person has a pet they should at least have a fence with a good area so the pet can get out of the bad weather , cold and heat. I pray that the law is passed. No chaining dog for more that 24 hours. Best for dog not to be chained without supervision and then only for short time.

January 25, 2010 at 5:26 p.m.
smithgall said...

I do not live in Chattanooga, but I commend your city for recommending an ordinance that pushes all those who own pets to be responsible for their welfare. If a dog is basically chained up his whole life with little contact with their masters, they lead miserable, lonely, unhealthy lives. What is the basic reason for having a dog, if they are just tied up and thrown food and water and not allowed to be part of the pack (family)? Just makes no sense.

January 31, 2010 at 10:18 a.m.
PhilBrittain said...

OK, so has the world gone nuts? I've had dogs I would tie out and they were not aggressive. I have a dog that NEVER gets tied up and he acts as if he would kill any passerby if he was given the chance. Also, some dogs can climbs fences even better than people so as soon as you let them loose they will scale the fence and get out. They do not have the rationale to understand that a speeding vehicle can hit and either maim or kill them. Stop trying to act like they are our equals. They are dogs! They voluntarily drink out of toilets and do not understand human speech. I mean, come on! This law is ridiculous. What about those who do not have fences, have large dogs, and do not have it in their budgets to build the fences? Do they just have the dogs put down? They can't all go to the shelter. Did the local fence companies lobby the board?

February 1, 2010 at 8:30 p.m.
Pat said...

These laws are becoming a 'fad' and not thought through. More importantly is to strengthen existing laws so animal control officers have more to work with and to constantly educate the community through the media and mailings on proper animal care. Yes, dogs left outside are easily forgotten, checked on infrequently, and lack socialization, but a pen or a fence doesn't solve these problems any more than a chain causes them. The problem is that many people don't know how to care for their dog. They've always done it one way, or seen other people chain dogs for life. It's usually the transplants, people moving from a city or returning from a city who notice how poorly animals are treated. The trick is to educate people, have a good hard working AC backed by the police when a dog is not being cared for.

February 13, 2010 at 3:15 p.m.
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