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Newport News bans unattended dog tethering

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Posted at 8:16 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 22:39:01-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The city is cracking down on when pet parents can tether a pup outside.

Dog owners could tether unattended dogs for up to an hour in Newport News, but now someone always has to be within sight of the animal.

Animal Control says it was too difficult to ensure a dog's safety with the old law.

“That used to create some challenges for us in enforcing because we didn't know how long a dog was outside without the officer actually staying there for an hour or more. We just have no way of proving it,” says Newport News Superintendent of Animal Welfare Wayne Gilbert.

City council revised the ordinance Monday.

“If somebody's outside working in their yard and they can see the dog or working on their car or whatever the case may be, then that's going to be fine. What we want to stop is the 24/7 tethering of dogs left outside where they're just don't get any interaction with their owner,” says Gilbert.

Penny Dean is a dog lover who hates to see pups tied up alone outside.

“I just feel it’s dangerous and unfair to the dog, and then sometimes they can get hurt,” says Dean.

Animal Control agrees.

“We certainly know that dogs that stay tethered for a long time can have some behavioral issues. They can also become more aggressive when they stay tethered all the time, so it's just not good for them and their lives,” says Gilbert.

Violating the ordinance is a Class 3 Misdemeanor that can result in a $500 fine, but Animal Control says they’re looking to educate dog owners before tacking on fines.

Related: Virginia Beach Animal Control reminding residents to keep dogs on leashes, stepping up enforcement of law

Animal Control says a summons would be a last resort, with a few exceptions for safety.

“[If] we go to a call and the dog's life can be in danger or left outside on an extremely hot day - anything where there's a problem to the dog's health and safety or the public's health and safety.”

With safety as a first priority, Animal Control hopes more present pet owner will be better pet owners.