‘Staking out’ dogs banned in Thorsby

Some Thorsby residents might have to find a different way to restrain their pets after an amendment to the town’s animal control ordinance was passed by the Town Council on Monday.

The amendment outlaws restraining an animal by tying, chaining or tethering it, unless that is being done while the animal’s existing pen or cage is being cleaned.

Thorsby Police Chief Rodney Barnett proposed the amendment.

He said his experience has led him to believe that restraining animals, especially dogs, in such a way leads them to become more aggressive.

Barnett said chained, aggressive dogs can prevent police officers or other public officials from responding to a resident’s home in time of need. For example, Barnett said there have been cases when an officer was called out for a welfare check but couldn’t reach the door to a residence because of an aggressive dog whose restraint allowed it to block the door.

Barnett stressed that officers will not patrol in search of “staked” dogs. However, if an officer is called to a residence for another reason and finds a dog restrained improperly, the property owner stands to face punishment.

The property owner would likely be given a warning. Then, if the situation is not brought into compliance in a reasonable amount of time, fines could be issued.

As with other violations of Thorsby’s animal control ordinance, a first offense would carry a fine of $276, including court fees.

“I was pleased that they passed this,” Barnett said about the council’s approval. “I’m sure there will be some opposition to it, but we’re not going to be going out looking for this. We just thought this was the best thing to do for the animal’s welfare and for our safety.”

The complete amendment to the ordinance reads:

“It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dot, cat, horse, etc. to tie, chain, tether or stake out such animal, unless this is being done to provide time to clean and sanitize the existing pen, house, cage or fenced in area in which the animal is normally kept. This method of animal confinement has in the opinion of town officials increased the aggressiveness of certain animals, creating an increased threat of animal attacks. Town officials believe that by implementing this section into the animal ordinance, it will provide for not only citizens’ well being, but also animals’ well being.”

The amendment was effective July 7.

The last amendment to the town’s animal control ordinance was passed in April 2009 and dealt with rabies control.

The ordinance also addresses bee hives, nuisance, limitations on number of cats, running at large, killing of dogs, confining dogs or cats in season, enclosures and continuous barking, among other topics.

A copy can be viewed at Thorsby Town Hall.

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