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A public hearing is scheduled for October 22, 2018 at the Athens, AL City Hall to discuss proposed changes to the city animal ordinance.  Animal owners in Athens are urged to attend, ask questions, express concerns, and offer suggestions.  Click here to view an outline of the proposed changes.

Among other provisions, the proposals seek to establish:

  • Arbitrary minimum square footage and dimension requirements for dog enclosures. For example, under these proposals, a dog less than 30 pounds could not be kept in an enclosure of less than 36 square feet, and no side of the enclosure may be less than 6 feet long. Per this requirement, a 6’x6’ (36 square feet) enclosure would be legal, but an enclosure 4’x10’ (40 square feet) would be illegal. For dogs over 30 pounds, the minimum enclosure requirement would be 100 square feet with no side less than 8 feet long.
  • A restriction that would prohibit an owner from performing an undefined “medical procedure” on a pet animal.
  • Additional restrictions and/or a ban on tethering of dogs.
  • Significantly increased fines for violations.

 Provisions of concern:

  • It is unclear if other forms of confinement for dogs—such as underground fencing and boundary training—would be prohibited.
  • It is unclear if the proposal would criminalize an owner whose dog is outside an enclosure, but never leaves the owner’s property.
  • It is unclear if a dog owner would be permitted to use a dog crate or any other enclosure that does not meet both the minimum square footage AND minimum dimension requirements. It is also unclear if a person who resides in a garden home or apartment would be prohibited from using small pens and protective enclosures that are specifically designed to allow a dog to safely relax and enjoy fresh air.
  • The proposals do not consider that different dogs have different needs, or that many responsible dog owners use a combination of outdoor enclosures, outdoor exercise areas, indoor enclosures, and dog crates to house and protect their dogs. In addition, owners may also provide leash walking, training activities, dog park visits, and other methods of exercise and play time for their dogs.
    The proposals would penalize responsible dog owners based on a set of arbitrary enclosure requirements.
  • A vague provision that seeks to prohibit a pet owner from performing an undefined “medical procedure” does not consider that responsible owners routinely perform numerous pet care protocols. These include administering vaccinations (with the exception of rabies inoculations, which must be done by a veterinarian), treating minor injuries, and providing many other preventative and remedial care procedures to their animals. Further, the practice of veterinary medicine and penalties for noncompliance are regulated by the state.

Positive provisions that may merit support:

  • Existing law provides five days before stray animals are euthanized, except for puppies and kittens less than two weeks of age which may be immediately euthanized. The proposals would make all animals subject to the five-day hold.
  • Existing law requires that injured and diseased animals shall be euthanized. The proposals would allow, but not require, euthanasia.

The American Kennel Club strongly advocates that dog owners bear a special responsibility to their canine companions to provide proper care and humane treatment at all times.  However, these proposals fail to consider that responsible dog owners utilize a variety of solutions to safely house their dogs and to provide exercise and play time.

Additionally, the AKC recognizes that tethering is a practical and humane method for training and restraining dogs in a variety of circumstances. Dogs should never be tethered in a manner that could cause harm to them. Tethering is a common and responsible way to restrain dogs that do not respond well to other restraints (such as escape artists), or participate in activities that require acclimatization such as hunting, sledding and/or other obedience and performance events. Tethering may also be a responsible and appropriate option for handling dogs that are service dogs such as seeing eye dogs, dogs in training, and dogs that are being groomed or examined on a table. AKC opposes arbitrary restrictions on tethering, which can undermine the wellbeing of dogs, responsible dog ownership, and safe training and recreational activities.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Animal owners in Athens are urged to attend the public hearing to seek clarification regarding what problems the proposals are intended to address, express concerns, and help work toward reasonable solutions.

Public Hearing:

Date:  October 22, 2018

Time:  5:30 p.m.

Location:  Athens City Hall, 200 W Hobbs Street, Athens, AL 35611

Athens residents are also encouraged to contact their City Council members with questions about the proposals and to discuss their concerns

Mayor William R. Marks, 256-233-8730, https://athensalabama.us/formcenter/50/50

Frank Travis, 256-233-1688, email ftravis@athensal.us

Joseph Cannon, 256-444-2022, email jcannon@athensal.us

Wayne Harper, 256-233-4122, email wharper@athensal.us

Chris Siebert, 256-233-7602, email cseibert@athensal.us

Harold Wales, 256-232-4179, email hgwales14@aol.com

Resources: 

Sassy’s Story and the Question of Tethering – handout

AKC Position Statement on Tethering

For more information, please contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org or 919-816-3645.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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