The Carrboro Board of Aldermen had dogs’ — but maybe not the public’s — best interests in mind when it voted last week to ban tethering. While the ban will surely prevent some cases of inhumane treatment of dogs, it could have easily been fortified with a public hearing that the board decided to skip. The outright ban now runs the risk of acting as a tax on dog owners who must expand fences to keep their dogs unattended outside.
The board’s approval of the ordinance on Sept. 13 was a knee-jerk reaction to one resident’s complaint about a confined dog. The aldermen’s swift reaction to one resident and disregard for any others brings into question the thoroughness of the board’s consideration of this ban and its consequences.
If the ban works as the board hopes, Carrboro will see dogs that are less aggressive and less defenseless. But its residents will also have to bear the costs of expanding their fences to comply with the ordinance’s restrictions, which require 200 square feet of space for dogs that weigh more than 20 pounds. In a time of economic struggle, it stands to reason that some owners will keep their dogs inside to avoid this expense, possibly in crates that could prove more inhumane than a leash or rope tied to a tree.
Besides the economic drawback, the ban’s conditions are tough to enforce — almost to the point where the ordinance is worthless. The board has left too many exceptions for Animal Control to seize a dog under improper tethering conditions. There also has been no clear articulation of penalties.
The tethering ordinance was hastily considered. Orange County’s rule allowing three hours of tethering per day is difficult to enforce, but Carrboro could have agreed to a time limit that would prove more feasible. If the board had held a public hearing, such an option could at least have been considered.
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