The Phoenix City Council Wednesday passed an ordinance to protect dogs from cruel tethering and aid law enforcement in pursuing animal cruelty cases.
"The tethering ordinance passed today will aid our law enforcement in pursuing animal cruelty cases," Councilwoman Thelda Williams said. "I've seen first-hand the results of neglectful and abusive behavior on our pet population. A person who is capable of abusing animals will eventually be involved in violent crimes against domestic partners and other family members, which may lead to violent crimes outside the home. We owe it to the most vulnerable among us to attempt to stop the violence."
Williams, a longtime animal welfare advocacy with input from the Arizona Humane Society and other animal welfare organizations.
"I'm thrilled to support the tremendous efforts of Arizona Humane Society, their Animal Emergency Medical Technicians and our Phoenix police officers by giving them every available resource to end animal neglect," said Williams.
Wednesday's action outlaws restraining a dog outside using a restraint that unreasonably limits the dog's movement during extreme weather conditions, when the outdoor temperature is below 32 degrees or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, when a heat advisory has been issued or when a monsoon, hurricane, tropical storm, dust storm or tornado warning has been issued.
A restraint unreasonably limits a dog's movement if the restraint uses a collar that is not properly fitted to the dog; is in length shorter than 10 feet; places the dog in unsafe or unsanitary conditions; causes injury to the dog; or does not permit the dog access to food, water, shade, dry ground or shelter.
A person found responsible for a first offense of the ordinance would be subject to a fine. Subsequent violations are a Class One misdemeanor with increasing fines and jail time.
The Arizona Humane Society strongly supports the ordinance.
"Neglect starts somewhere," reads a statement from AHS. "And it's long before ribs are showing. Long before collars are embedded into skin. Long before the sun scorches an animals skin. Neglect most often starts with the simple act of tethering an animal outside in Arizona -- and the City of Phoenix is working to end the epidemic of animal neglect where it starts."
"Every year, we field thousands of calls from concerned neighbors about a dog that's tied up, outside, in distress," said Dr. Steve Hansen, CEO of the Arizona Humane Society. "This ordinance allows us to contact the owners, correct the situation and work with law enforcement to cite those that don't improve the conditions of their pets."
With this ordinance's passage, AHS is now planning to embark on a citywide education program that explains the new law and discourages inhumane and illegal tethering and collaring.
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