Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Group in California Puts Forth Bill to Limit Tethering Of Dogs: Schwarzenegger Opposes It

This is such a common sense bill I can’t understand (other than just indifference to cruelty) why Schwarzenegger would oppose it. This is necessary legislation that will do much to end much suffering. Here is a synopsis from the article below. Again, it’s hard to see how anyone would say no to such legislation:

“SB1578 would limit the tethering of dogs to three hours during 24 hours, and, supporters say, hopefully persuade owners not to tie up their dogs at all. Proponents of the legislation say tethering dogs all day is not only unfair to the animals but can lead to more aggression.”

Article:

Animal rights groups push bill that would limit tethering of dogs

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=

/c/a/2006/08/08/TETHERING.TMP

- Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

(08-08) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- Man's best friend shouldn't spend the day tied up.

That's the message of a coalition of animal rights organizations hoping that state lawmakers will approve a bill to restrict the tethering of dogs.

SB1578 would limit the tethering of dogs to three hours during 24 hours, and, supporters say, hopefully persuade owners not to tie up their dogs at all. Proponents of the legislation say tethering dogs all day is not only unfair to the animals but can lead to more aggression.

"Dogs that are chained permanently become more aggressive and are more likely to bite," said Pam Runquist, a member of the board of the California Animal Association, a coalition of 15 animal rights organizations. "It's also a horrible existence for a dog. They are social creatures; they should be part of a family."

The coalition sponsors one animal-related piece of legislation each year, and this year's bill came at the request of animal control officers in the state who were looking for a more specific definition as to how long a dog could be tied up.

Its passage would come as good news for Carl Friedman, director of the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control. While current San Francisco ordinances have specific mandates for the shelter of dogs, and require exercise, his officers often have to make judgment calls.

"It's something we need operationally to define -- what's proper exercise?" he said. "When the law defines it, it makes our job a lot easier."

Friedman said tying dogs up can cause a host of problems, including accidentally strangling the animals.

"It happens all the time -- the dog gets tangled up and they wind up suffocating or hanging themselves," he said. "It's a horrendous way to die."

Pat Claerbout, director of the Sacramento County Department of Animal Care, said the bill would giver officers more choices.

"We get calls all the time where the dogs are entangled and we have to make a decision to take the animal or untangle it and leave it, knowing that next time it could get hurt," said Claerbout, who is also on the board of the California Animal Control Directors' Association.

She said that if the bill becomes law, it will allow officers to educate owners about other, safer ways to restrain their dogs -- by putting up a fence or using a pulley system.

If warnings or education don't do the trick, violators could be found guilty of an infraction, with a fine of up to $250 per dog, or a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 per dog or up to six months in a county jail.

Friedman also said his officers see dogs becoming more aggressive when they are continually tied up. A 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite than dogs that are not chained.

Dogs are territorial by nature, and this instinct becomes stronger when then they are tied in place, Runquist and Claerbout said.

"They are more likely to bite if someone comes into their territory," Runquist said.

Friedman says the bill is a good way to reinforce what he sees as the basic needs of dogs.

"The bottom line is that people shouldn't have a companion animal if all they do is keep them outside 18 to 20 hours a day," he said. "They should be part of the family and should be allowed inside like any other member of the family."

The bill allows dogs to be restrained under specific circumstances or if they are attached to a pulley system. Runquist said the pulley exception was necessary for people unable to put in a fence. Tethering is also allowed for owners to complete a temporary task, in a camping or recreational area and as part of training.

Tethering is also allowed when it is part of a licensed activity, which satisfied concerns from hunters. But the bill's supporters have been unable to quell the opposition of farmers and ranchers, who say the bill's provisions are too restrictive.

"There are times when farmers and ranchers need to tie up their working dogs for the safety of the animal, and a three-hour time limit doesn't always fit the farm or ranch," said Noelle Cremers with the California Farm Bureau. Cremers said they are still working to try to find a satisfactory resolution.

Also opposed to the bill is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Office of Planning and Research. The office's letter of opposition states that the bill is unnecessary because "current animal abuse and aggressive dog laws adequately protect animals and the public, as well as punish perpetrators."

The letter also says the lack of clear standards could lead to discriminatory enforcement, meaning dog owners could be cited or arrested based on "the dog's breed or the owner's race, social class or location."

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger, Darrell Ng, said the office's opposition does not mean the governor will not sign the bill.

"The governor has not taken a position on the bill," Ng said.

The bill, which has passed the Senate, is set to be heard Wednesday in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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