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Tethering debate

Letter to the Editor:
The views expresed in articles, columns and Letters to the Editor published in the Gwinnett Citizen and on do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Gwinnett Citizen.

June 9, 2015

Gwinnett County has been the subject of an ongoing tethering debate for several months now. 

On March 17, 2015 the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners adopted a dangerous new ordinance that allows people to tether their dogs for up to fourteen (14) hours, unsupervised, between the hours of 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM. This is a far stretch from the current ordinance that only allows tethering for up to one (1) hour per day. This action was taken behind closed doors with no opportunity for public discussion. 

The recommended ordinance would have allowed for supervised tethering only, a law being passed all over the country by forward-thinking communities. This was presented to them by the animal control director, supported unanimously by the commissioner-appointed Gwinnett Animal Advisory Council, by the police chief and by over 90% of those who spoke at a public forum to hear opinions on this issue. 

An all out ban on tethering/trolleying is 100% enforceable and will not pull from Gwinnett County Police resources after hours, when their time is better used protecting the county for other various matters. Several counties have adopted a complete ban on tethering and trolleying. Our county should be proactive and not reactive on this issue.

Here are a few facts about tethering: 

• The CDC tells us that almost 26% of all dog on human fatalities are caused by intact male dogs that are tethered or routinely tethered. The CDC also states that tethered dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite than a non-tethered dog. 

• The American Veterinary Medical Association advises, “never chain your dog because it can lead to aggression.” 

• A report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association states that “in 87.1% of fatal dog attacks, there was no able-bodied person present to intervene.” This staggering statistic shows how vital it is for a responsible person to be present in case of an incident between a dog and a child, or any person who is unable to defend themselves, in case of an attack.” 

At a series of town hall meetings following this decision, members of the Gwinnett Animal Alliance presented research and asked questions. Though we presented statistics from the CDC, the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, HSUS and other credible and reputable sources, the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners is unyielding on this issue. When asked what research was the basis of their decision, three of the five commissioners (Lynette Howard, Tommy Hunter and Charlotte Nash) stated that their personal experience as long time pet owners was the basis of their research. With the exception of John Heard, who voted against fourteen (14) hours of unsupervised tethering, not one commissioner has been able or willing to cite a single piece of research. Our county leadership has a responsibility to make informed decisions.

Members of Gwinnett Animal Alliance believe that all citizens, especially children, the elderly and dogs, have the right to be safe and properly cared for. The practice of tethering / trolleying creates a threat to the rights of our citizens, both human and canine, to work, live and play in a safe community. 

Below, you will find telephone numbers and email addresses for the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. We encourage all Gwinnett County residents to call and email the Board of Commissioners (in exception for John Heard) and voice your opinion. This is a serious public safety issue, as well as a humane issue. It will also affect property values and marketability of homes. No one wants to live near a tethered dog who might bark excessively or become aggressive due to its confinement. 

Thank you from the Gwinnett Animal Alliance. 

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