Oregon lawmakers consider how to leash dogs
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers are proposing to put some bite into a measure that would address problems caused by barking dogs that are kept on short leashes or tied up too long.
An “unlawful tethering” bill is being taken seriously at the Capitol, Democratic Rep. Brad Witt of Claskanie tells The Oregonian.
The bill would make it a violation to tether a dog with a short leash or a choke collar or to keep a dog tied up outside for an extended time. It would become a misdemeanor if improper tethering leads to injury or death.
Dogs that are tethered improperly take up law enforcement time and can suffer psychological and physical harm, Witt said.
“I don't think it's a matter of anyone using a stop watch or taking out a tape measure,” Witt says, “but rather to foster more humane tethering and sheltering conditions for animals.”
The bill would make it unlawful to tether a pet in a place “that is not free of obstructions” and could cause strangulation, with a tether that is less than 15 feet long, or with a collar designed to choke or pinch.
It would prohibit leaving a dog on a tether for more than five hours a day, or, if attached to a zip line, more than 10 hours a day.
It would also require “adequate bedding” and “adequate shelter” for dogs, such as straw, wood shavings, blankets, doghouses or barns.
Violators would face fines of up to $1,000.
Among those who think the bill goes too far is Ted Craddock, who keeps eight hound dogs on his ranch near La Grande, often volunteering them when state wildlife agents need to tree a cougar or bear for research.
“You don't want to be told how to tie your dogs up and take care of them or anything else,” Craddock says. “I've been doing this for over 50 years, and I know exactly how to tie them up.”
Supporters say the bill has plenty of exemptions and isn't aimed at responsible owners. But it also would give authorities far more specific language to deal with problem animal calls.
Dogs chained or tethered for long periods of time away from their owners “tend to be unsocialized, lonely and unhappy dogs,” said Scott Beckstead, Oregon director for the Humane Society of the United States. “What that means for law enforcement is 80 percent of the calls of barking, aggressive dogs involve dogs that are chained.”
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com