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Plan would cut tethering
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Dog tethering has been shown to cause aggression in dogs. Nicole McPeak of the Warren County Pets Lost and Found proposed a potential ordinance to county officials to try and change the standards of pet care in the county. - photo by Taylor Moore

Steps to limit dog tethering have been initiated. 

Nicole McPeak of the Warren County Pets Lost and Found presented a potential plan to the Warren County Health and Welfare Committee on Tuesday night.

The plan consists of three phases in an attempt to implement ordinances to improve the standard care for dogs. McPeak said Johnson City prohibits dog tethering altogether. 

McPeak, aware of the lengthy process to get an ordinance in place, only prepared an explanation of phase one of the plan. McPeak will return with a breakdown of the other phases when the committee has time to discuss the issue.

The first phase listed the standards of care for a dog including humane standards for tethering/chaining, food and water for dogs who live outside, and enhanced shelter. These are just proposed standards for dog owners to uphold if the ordinance makes it into law.

Committee chair Blaine Wilcher said, “I’m all for trying to, if not eliminate, at least lessen, the amount of animals that are just chained all day long every day.”

“How do you enforce this?” asked committee member Kasey Owens. 

McPeak said, “There are tether laws in the state of Tennessee, but all it states is ‘Do not cause injury to the dog.’” 

She said that in order for intervention to take place legally, the dog either has to die or be injured. “So by putting in an ordinance to specify humane tethering, we’re going to prevent that.”

McPeak wants to prevent the death or injury of animals on chains.

There were concerns among committee members on how Warren County citizens would react to such a law. 

Owens said, “Creating things like that could be considered overstepping, and that’s the only thing I worry about.” She said people wouldn’t be OK with the government interfering with how they take care of their pets.

“Animal rights in general was considered overstepping,” McPeak responded, “If people weren’t neglecting them, we wouldn’t have animal rights or laws.” 

The committee recognized McPeak’s intentions and commended her for bringing up this issue.

McPeak said phase two would specify time limits for a dog to be on a tether. She said her organization needs to gather resources before introducing this phase. McPeak is eager to return so she can keep pushing for an ordinance to ensure the safety, health and happiness of dogs in Warren County.

The process of passing an ordinance would be a future issue. Currently, the discussion has just been proposed and will be further discussed on what appropriate actions will take place.