County and FOTAS Work Together to Keep Dogs Off Chains

The County, FOTAS and other concerned citizens worked together for months to pass a tethering ordinance. Many animal cruelty and neglect cases include dogs permanently attached to heavy chains that limit their mobility and access to food, water and shade or escape from their own waste. But little could be done to prevent people from treating their animals this way without an enforceable regulation against such conditions.

County Animal Control Supervising Officer Patrick Miller with Igloo dog houses donated by generous citizens.

Then last year, after many people – including County Animal Shelter Manager and Chief Enforcement Officer Bobby Arthurs – testified to the Aiken County Council, the ordinance was finalized and passed. Arthurs worked with County Code Enforcement Director Paige Bayne and County Attorney Jim Holly on the original draft of the ordinance.

Passed on March 21, the tethering ordinance ensures people treat their dogs more humanely by making it unlawful for a person to tether, fasten, chain, tie or restrain a dog to a house, tree, fence, or any stationary object except for a brief period necessary to complete a temporary task that requires the dog to be restrained. That period cannot exceed four hours and the animal must have free access to water, food and shelter during this time.

If a tethering system is used, it must be connected to a single stake with a swivel on top, be at least 15 feet long and allow the dog to have as close to 360 degrees circular movement as practicable.  If a runner or trolley system is used, it must be at least 20 feet long and allow the dog to move freely along the length of the trolley runner line without being entangled.

“The word is definitely getting out there and it’s already made a difference,” said County Animal Control Officer Brandon Creel. “The number of animals we see on chains has dipped significantly.”

In the past six months, FOTAS has purchased and supplied 75 humane runners and swivels/stakes to help such canines.

County Animal Control Officers Larry Callahan (left) and Daniel Godwin holding swivel systems that ensure dogs are tied in compliance with Aiken County’s tethering ordinance.

It should be noted that the new tethering law gives officers a big stick to punish animal cruelty and prevent cases of neglect, but not all animals tied outside are treated poorly. Certain citizens love their dogs but can’t afford to put up a fence or a runner.

“Some of these people will feed their dog before themselves, that’s how much they care about them,” said County Animal Control Officer Larry Callahan. “But it’s a different lifestyle where dogs are kept outside.”

When these families need help, the officers let FOTAS Programs Director Kathy Jacobs know, and she provides the materials they need.

“We have to look at the big picture,” Creel said. “If the owner’s heart is in the right place but they just can’t afford the runner or swivel system, we see if FOTAS can help. We try to assist people when we can. After all, helping them out also helps their dogs.”

If you can donate funds to help purchase runners or swivel systems for dogs, or can donate dog houses, new or used and in good condition, it would be most appreciated.  Please bring your donations to the County Shelter, 333 Wire Road in Aiken.

Their lives are in our hands.

 – By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Communications Director


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