Council to consider dog trolley restrictions

Published 9:30 am Thursday, December 29, 2022

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During the LaGrange City Council work session on Tuesday morning, local dog advocate Evie Kettler asked the city to consider modifying its tethering ordinance to eliminate 24/7 and unsupervised trolley system use.

The city already forbids point-to-point tethering but allows trolley systems where pets can be attached to a runner line and have more freedom of movement.

Kettler said that trolley runner systems, like the one she provided the council, are not designed to be used unsupervised. She said they are especially not meant to be used permanently.

“I just don’t believe that any dog belongs on a runner system or tether,” Kettler said. “These dogs become impregnated on their tether and those puppies end up at a shelter, which costs more money because we have more dogs. They are sitting ducks. They are going to get attacked by stray dogs, especially the females when other dogs come looking for her.”

Kettler said dogs that are tied up, either by a tether or on a trolley are a nuisance to neighbors.

“No one wants to live next door to a dog that is tethered,” she said. “They’re going to bark all the time. They are not guard dogs. They cannot protect you far away from the house. … They’re going to cause conflicts between neighbors.”

Council members raised questions about how the city could enforce a ban on using trolleys 24 hours a day.

“If somebody takes the dog off the tether, brings them over to the other side of the yard to feed the dog and takes them back on the tether, would that be acceptable? Is it doable from an enforcement standpoint?” Councilman Nathan Gaskin asked.

Beyond just getting dogs off trolleys 24 hours a day, the only safe way to use trolley systems is while they are being supervised, Kettler said. She said the packaging for the trolley system she brought explains that it should only be used under supervision.

“I just don’t want us to create an ordinance that there was no way that we can enforce,” Gaskin said.

Kettler insisted that an animal control officer can tell how long a dog has been on a trolley and that the 24-hour ban could be enforced.

Councilman Mark Mitchell suggested putting the issue to a vote once the upcoming election is settled.

“I think as a council, once we get the new mayor selected and gets seated, that it’s time to put it for a vote. If it fails, it fails. If it passes, it passes. I know she’s been here over and over,” Mitchell said. “She does a lot to make sure dogs are taken care of in this cold weather. We understand it, but we can’t change everybody’s opinion and the vote’s going to go where it goes, and you’ve got to accept the outcome.”

“I get that, but we’ve never actually voted on [eliminating 24-hour trolleys]. That’s why I’m asking,” Kettler said.

Kettler said that she and other animal advocates have noticed a change for the positive since the original tethering ban was approved.

“I just feel like it’s time. We’ve been doing this for seven years and things have improved. I cannot even tell you how much it’s improved,” Kettler said.

“We have built 34 fences and we have helped 52 dogs, and we continue to provide value to animals in the wintertime to help with the ordinance that was passed for shelter requirements,” she said.

“We’ve got a lot of dog lovers,” Mayor Pro-tem Willie Edmondson said. “We’re going to come up with an ordinance [for a vote] once we get the election settled.”

“I think what we’re asking as a council is that we consider this for a vote for, for a motion, as soon as the next meeting after the mayor is elected. I think you deserve that, but we’ll see where it falls.”

“If y’all pass this ordinance, you probably won’t see me for a while,” Kettler joked.