TN legislature to consider tougher law for tethering dogs - WSMV News 4

TN legislature to consider tougher law for tethering dogs

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With another cold snap heading toward Middle Tennessee, you will probably want to think about bringing your animals inside. In fact, soon you may be legally required to do just that.

The state Legislature is considering a bill, once again, that would toughen the laws on animal cruelty. Dog owners who keep their pets tethered inappropriately would be cited.

Dr. Lisa Martin, a veterinarian at Animalia Wellness Veterinary Hospital, has seen it all.

"I think until you sit outside with an animal, wearing a coat, and still feel how cold it is, you don't really get the concept of what the elements can do to you," Martin said.

The state is stepping in to make sure pet owners do what's responsible. State Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, is one of three lawmakers pushing a bill that would set some specific guidelines for pet owners.

"It's just common sense. There are simply times that you should not tether an animal. If there's a storm, sometimes they act in a way that can hurt themselves. There's also something in the bill that talks about what kind of collars you can't tether with," Durham said.

Dogs that are nursing and puppies less than 6 months old couldn't be tethered at all. The leashes would have to be at least 10 feet long and be size-appropriate for the dog. And when a weather warning is issued, you'd have to get them somewhere safe.

"What we're trying to do is protect animals. We're not trying to tell people what to do," Durham said.

Animalia is one of the organizations advocating this change because Martin says cruel situations happen all too often.

"We're hoping the exposure of this particular issue is going to maybe make people more cognizant of what it means to be outside without protection and without food and water in easy access," Martin said.

It's important to note, that pet owners caught violating this proposed law would face a Class C misdemeanor for the first offense. That's the same as a speeding ticket.

Police won't be out looking for these people. It's usually neighbors who report each other to authorities.

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