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Council to mull dog rules

Monday, May 24, 2010

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Business at Martinsville City Council meetings is going to the dogs again.

Late last year, the council adopted an ordinance requiring pet owners to clean up after their dogs on public property.

A proposed ordinance that the council will consider Tuesday would force people to give their pets adequate space in which to move around. It also would limit how long dogs can bark continuously.

City code already prohibits dogs and other animals in residential areas from barking or making other loud noises between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Under the proposed ordinance, animals could not continuously make such noises for more than 15 minutes at any time of the day.

The proposal says that it would be "unlawful to fail to provide any animal with adequate space."�

Adequate space is defined as space sufficient for an animal to comfortably stand, sit, lie, turn and make other normal body movements.

Any tethering of a companion animal would have to be appropriate for the animal's size and age, the ordinance says.

The tether would have to be attached to a "properly applied" collar, halter or harness in a way that keeps the animal from being injured, as well as the animal and tether from being entangled with other animals or objects.

And the tether would have to be at least three times the animal's length as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail, except when the pet is being walked on a leash or tethered to a lead line, the ordinance states.

The ordinance would prohibit tethering an animal for more than four hours in a 24-hour period. It also would prohibit tethering animals that are sick, hurt or under 4 months of age.

Animals could not be tethered to a fixed point, as well as tethered without shelter when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 95 degrees, the ordinance shows.

Pet owners would face a misdemeanor charge if their animals violate the ordinance.

Mayor Kathy Lawson said Martinsville has "some pressing issues with dogs" and how owners treat them, especially in certain neighborhoods.

Some people apparently never walk their dogs or take proper care of them, she said.

The proposed ordinance deals with "the humanitarian aspect" of owning a pet, Lawson said.

"It would help curtail (the problem of) dogs that are chained up and just left" to basically fend for themselves, she added.

The ordinance, which is based on policy recently enacted in Danville, will be considered on first reading when the council meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the municipal building uptown.

If council members initially approve it, the ordinance will be considered for final approval - at which time it would become law - during a future council meeting.


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