A Barrow County girl was mauled and left in critical condition over the summer by a loose pit bull dog. Since the attack, the Barrow County government has been adding revisions to animal ordinances that they believe will improve safety for citizens.
While the Board of Commissioners has been working on ways to control animals, a Northeast Georgia nonprofit is pushing for the revision of an ordinance they believe will improve the lives of dogs.Why It’s Newsworthy: A revised tethering ordinance would require dog owners to be physically outside with their dogs while they are tethered. Dog owners who rely on tethering to give their dog time outside will have to adapt to the revised ordinance if it is passed.
Goals of Barrow County Nonprofit Group
Off the Chain is an organization whose goal is to build fences, so dogs do not have to be restricted to chains. According to their website, they have constructed 70 fences and unchained 112 dogs in Barrow and Jackson Counties as of Oct. 17, 2020.
Aside from building fences and unchaining dogs, Off the Chain educates dog owners about proper pet care.
Tethering in Barrow County
Off the Chain has proposed a revision of the current animal tethering to the Barrow County Board of Commissioners. Jennifer Summers, Off the Chain’s founder, said the revised tethering ordinance “would ban unsupervised tethering,” which is the key provision that she believes the current tethering ordinance is missing.
The current tethering ordinance includes provisions where dog owners must provide a chain three times the dog’s length, provide adequate shelter, and the animal chained must be spayed or neutered. However, it does not require dog owners to be physically outside with their dogs when they are tethered.
Off the Chain has experience working with dogs that have spent most of their lives tethered outside without their owner. In terms of the difference between a dog tethered and not tethered, Summers said, “There’s a very clear difference. On our website, we have before and after pictures, and it’s an immediate change. As soon as they are off that chain, they are completely different animals.”
Dogs that are chained up are known to exhibit behavior that is different from dogs that are free to move as they please. According to a study cited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, when comparing biting dogs to non-biting dogs, “those that were left chained in the yard bit more frequently than those that were not left chained.”
Tethering Ordinance Revision’s Future
Although Off the Chain has proposed the revision of the tethering ordinance to the Board of Commissioners, Jaclyn Nguyen, Barrow County Animal Control Director, believes that the current tethering ordinance is strict and the revision to the ordinance is not something of immediate concern. However, Nguyen said “at some point in time, it’s probably something that is going to get looked at.”
As of now, the revision to the animal tethering ordinance has not received a scheduling for Board of Commission review.
Henry Fletcher is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
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