Letter to editor: Tethering detrimental to dogs

Published 11:30 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

How would you feel if you had no voice and no choice for your living conditions?

I am referring to dogs that live their lives isolated and tethered 24/7 within our community. Would you feel unwanted, sad, not loved? I first realized people tether their dogs 24/7 in 2014. How many people still do not know this is occurring all around us? Since the day I recognized it, I have been trying to improve our laws and standards of care for dogs who live outdoors. I will never understand why the existing, outdated laws have been challenging to change in Troup County, where I reside. The disturbing truth is that dogs who live continuously tethered and unsupervised are a bite risk to the community, create unwanted litters of puppies, and can transmit disease and parasites to humans and other animals. These problems negatively impact the quality of life in our county and unfairly shift the financial burden of resolution to taxpayers.

Dogs are highly social pack animals and require two types of regular socialization to develop well-adjusted behavior: socialization with other dogs and socialization with humans. A continuously tethered dog typically receives neither and can become a significant bite risk, especially for children and the elderly. National agencies such as the CDC, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA, and renowned animal behaviorists, recognize the indisputable connection between continuous tethering and canine aggression. State Farm published the following national position statement on supervision of dogs: “Dogs should be supervised at all times by an adult, and children should never be left alone with any dog, including in the family home or yard. 

Tethered dogs often lack veterinary care, adequate shelter, and clean food and water. Most are unaltered and contribute to Georgia’s pet overpopulation crisis that overburdens our animal shelters. Not to mention the extreme temperatures and weather conditions these dogs must endure every summer and winter. For these reasons and more, the USDA reported, “Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane.”

Isn’t it time for the Troup County Commissioners to update and pass responsible standards of care for outdoor dogs that are comparable to ordinances in surrounding communities? Isn’t it time to shift accountability from taxpayers to neglectful dog owners?

Evie Kettler

Troup County