The St. Joseph City Council approved a tethering ordinance this week and the plan is to implement the ordinance in phases.
According to St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray, the issue was brought to the council by the Health Department and others concerned about the treatment of animals.
“Last winter, this is before I was on the council, there was an animal that died during the winter season,” McMurray said. “So this is just to encourage everyone to treat their animals in a humane way and not to just tie them up in the yard all day and not to leave them out in the cold or very hot weather.”
St. Joseph Animal Control and Rescue Humane Educator Jennifer Lockwood said the ordinance came about through community input as well as data gathered by animal control.
“There are lots of different studies out there that show that tethering animals for long periods of time, or chronic tethering, can lead to unwanted behavior problems,” Lockwood said. “So with that information, paired with the community’s concern, we put the survey out there and got a lot of feedback and at least 80% of the community was in favor of a tethering ordinance.”
The city council approved the ordinance on Monday, but Lockwood said it will be implemented in phases, with phase one being education.
“We’re going to make sure the public knows the ordinance has changed and give them ample time to make different accommodations to their pet, different ways to restrain their pet. We’re always here to help with any kind of recommendations or if anything is needed for that,” Lockwood said. “So that’s kind of phase one and that will take us through to the first part of December and that will give everybody some time before the more inclement weather hits.”
Lockwood said once it gets colder, around the 1st of December through early 2019, they will begin issuing warnings to violators and the plan is to have full enforcement of the ordinance by May 2019.
The ordinance includes restrictions on tethering such as not tethering a dog outside if the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 85 degrees, having the tethered animal be supervised and not tethering a pet between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is eliminate tethering as a primary method of confining the animal, and then, if they’re tethered for more than 30 minutes, they have to have adequate food, water and shelter provided for them,” Lockwood said. “What we’re hoping with this is just to improve the quality of life for the pet. That’s what it’s all about, making sure these pets are well cared for, and that they have the proper accommodations for living outdoors.”
Click here to view the full ordinance.