Once again, the vote on the proposed anti-dog tethering ordinance in Athens is delayed. The city council wants to make last minute amendments. Right now, the council has two options: An ordinance that still allows tethers and one that does not allow them at all.
Because of the amount of public outcry from people in Athens it seems like the city council is leaning towards choosing the option that would not allow you to tether your dog outside.
Robert Pitman is a veterinarian and one of roughly 20 people at the meeting who are against tethering, "That's animal cruelty in the worst form. They're not socialized. They're not able to interact with people most times," said Pitman.
The city council is adjusting the ordinance to make the required pen sizes bigger. For dogs 60 pounds or lighter, it would be 12' x 12', or 144 square feet. For dogs over 60 pounds, it would be 20' x 20', or 400 square feet. They are also adding a provision allowing people to have invisible electric dog fences.
"I think it's too much of the government getting into people's homes," said James Lucas of Athens. He also said as long as a dog has enough food and water, someone should be allowed to tether them outside, "I think that you should be able to care for your dog in any way that's suitable for the dog."
Lucas said putting up a fence would be expensive for many people on fixed incomes in Athens.
"I think all the argument about people can't afford a 12' x 12' pen, or a 10' x 10', if they can't afford the pen they can't afford the dog," said Pitman."
If the city council chooses to approve the ordinance change at the next city council meeting, people here in Athens will have 90 days to make the changes before the police start enforcing it.
The animal advocacy group North Alabama Animal Warriors was at the meeting and vowed to help people put up fencing and get proper outside housing for their dogs if they can't afford it if the ordinance passes.