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SLC Council discusses dog tethering

Posted at 10:03 PM, May 06, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- In some parts of Utah, pet owners are allowed to tether their dogs for as long as they want to.

One city wants to change that.

Salt Lake City wants to put a limit on how long pet owners can tether their dogs. At Tuesday night's city council meeting, members and residents discussed when should a rowdy dog be deemed a vicious animal?

"At one point there was a mauling of a dog that broke free of its tether," said Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, whose ambition to propose a new ordinance in his city was sparked by the story of a 6-year-old boy who was attacked by a neighbor's pit bull in February.

"A dog could be tied to a tree for its entire life, that is legal under current law,” LaMalfa said.

That statute only stands for certain areas in Utah. The councilman wants to limit the time a pet owner can tether their dog to 10 hours.

Polly Hart, the Director of Millcreek FIDOS, which stands for Friends Interested in Dogs and Open Space, has mixed feelings about the proposed ordinance.

"I do feel like 10 hours is probably too long," Hart said.

Hart was one of several dog owners who showed up to Tuesday night's public hearing on tethering, but that's not the only topic that caught people's attention.

"I want to point out in the ordinance that the definition of a dangerous animal is any animal which is properly classified as dangerous in accordance with pertinent written standard by the animal services, and definition is the same," said one Salt Lake City resident at the podium.

What makes a dog dangerous or vicious?

Some residents say there's too much grey area. Others think tethering a dog for too long is what makes them more vicious than others.

"I didn't realize dog tethering was such a huge problem until I moved to Salt Lake City on the west side, and just a couple months a street away from me a child was attacked by a dog that broke free of their chain. These dogs are often driven insane. I'm not talking about dogs that are tied up temporarily, these are dogs that are tied up to chains their entire lives," said another resident during the public hearing.

There were some people who said tethering should be banned all together. Others argued creating an ordinance that has limitations is nearly impossible to enforce. The City Council did not vote on the proposal.