Animal Control Welcomes Help in Enforcing No Tether Ordinance

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COLUMBIA - An animal abuse ordinance is proving difficult to enforce, and now Columbia/Boone County Animal Control is inviting neighbors, witnesses, and literal watchdog groups to provide outside information to help enforce it.

The ordinance in question sets rules for how pets can be "tethered", or tied to another object. Section 5 of the Code of Ordinance states it is unlawful to:

  • Tether an animal as the primary method of restraining an animal to any property
  • Tether an animal using a choke collar
  • Tether an animal without using a properly fitted collar or harness made of nylon or leather
  • Tether an animal without using a tether of appropriate length and weight for free animal movement that includes swivels at both ends.

While Columbia/Boone County Animal Control Supervisor Molly Aust said the latter three bullet points are easily enforcible, she says the first proves more of a challenge. That's because the "primary method of restraining an animal" is defined as restraining an animal for more than 12 hours in a day. Animal Control simply can't keep track of every tethered animal.

"Even if we were overstaffed, it would still be extremely hard to enforce that ordinance," Aust said.

Aust says she welcomes the idea of getting outside tips from other organizations.

"We would welcome any information that outside agencies have to make the lives of animals better," Aust said.

Dogs Deserve Better Volunteer Melody Whitworth works with dogs on a daily basis. She said it is her passion to make dogs' lives better. Whitworth said she has helped about 200 dogs that have been chained. She also educates dog owners on ways to keep their dogs safe.

"Quite often times, people want help," Whitworth said. "They just don't realize it's out there. So if animal control can be a little bit more proactive and work with us a little closer, we can help a lot more families with the situations they've gotten themselves into."

Aust says all she needs is a phone call from someone who wants to help.

"We would gladly talk to Dogs Deserve Better," said Aust. "We want to talk to outside agencies."

Aust says she's focused on education, not punishment. She prefers to talk to owners about the ordinance, and says she hasn't written any citations yet.

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