City may make tethering illegal

Published 8:08 pm Friday, July 16, 2010

At its July 20 meeting, the Bainbridge City Council will consider a topic that may be unpleasant to some, but one that Humane Society President Pam Immendorf believes is an important social issue—the tethering of dogs.

Tethering is when a dog’s caretaker ties the animal to a post, zipline or other object in a manner that limits its movement to a fixed area. It’s usually done in situations where there is no fencing on a property. There are multiple reasons why Immendorf believes tethering should not be an acceptable practice in our society, and in fact, Decatur County Commissioners have already banned tethering in their animal control ordinance, which covers unincorporated areas of the county.

When the Bainbridge City Council adopted its comprehensive animal control ordinance in 2005, its text did not ban tethering. Immendorf believes it was an oversight, and not intentional, but she’s lobbied city officials to consider revising the ordinance.

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Research indicates tethering contributes to excessive barking, neglect, entanglement, embedded collars and aggression, Immendorf told members of the Kiwanis Club at their July 8 meeting. It is always used as a training technique by people who raise dogs to fight, said Immendorf, who said she believes it is inhumane to do so.

“Dogs are tethered to heavy chains and other objects to build up their muscles and make them tougher for fighting,” Immendorf said. “Dogfighting is a big problem in our area.”

Dogs need care, too

For the dogs who are tethered, there are even more serious problems than being trained to fight.

Dogs need social and mental stimulation with other animals and people. When tied up out in the yard, people tend to forget about them, and they lack food, water, veterinarian care and interaction with others, Immendorf said. Worse yet, the tethers get wrapped around trees and bushes, to the point that they can’t get to their food and water until someone frees them.

Dogs who are tethered or neglected are also more likely to be aggressive and thus more likely to bite.

In one recent case in Decatur County, seven dogs were found tethered on a property, apparently uncared for by their owner for several weeks, possibly months.

“Tethering constitutes animal neglect and animal cruelty,” Immendorf said. “We do need to have ordinances against it and the accompanying enforcement.”

Dogs who are tethered are constantly straining against them, causing lesions and skin irritation. Puppies who are tethered can quickly outgrow their collar, causing it to embed into their skin, a condition animal shelter staff see all the time in dogs who are rescued from their homes or abandoned. If not caught in time, an embedded collar will eventually sever a dog’s carotid artery and kill it.

Other things that can happen to dogs who are neglected by their owners included untrimmed nails, which embed into the dog’s paws, untreated injury, lack of grooming, fleas, mange, other skin issues, heartworms and starvation.

“It’s a sad commentary on how some people think pets should be treated, isn’t it?”

For more information on how to adopt a pet dog or cat, visit the Humane Society’s Web site at, call them at (229) 246-0101 or visit them on Cox Avenue Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.