LaGrange considering banning unsupervised dog trolley systems

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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The LaGrange City Council is considering an ordinance amendment to the city’s tethering ordinance that would forbid tethering dogs using a trolley system while unsupervised.

The proposed change came at the request of local animal advocate Evie Kettler, who has been fighting for dogs since 2015. Kettler initially asked the city to consider modifying its tethering ordinance in December to eliminate 24/7 and unsupervised trolley system, but the council postponed consideration of the amendment until the new mayor and council members could be seated.

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

Kettler said that since 2015, the treatment of dogs in LaGrange has improved. Pet owners can no longer tether point-to-point, use heavy chains or padlocks and adequate shelter must be provided. Although single point tethering has decreased, the use of trolleys has increased which has the same problems when used unsupervised, she said.

Kettler asked the council to prohibit any form of unsupervised tethering. Trolley systems could be used for supervised temporary tethering via harness if the owner or the custodian remains outside and visible with the dog at all times.

Kettler told the council in June that experts have long agreed that continuous, unsupervised tethering whether single point or by trolley is inhumane and causes physical and emotional suffering in dogs. She said trolley systems can eliminate the use of chains, but they still cause the same issues that of chaining up dogs.

Veterinarians and welfare advocates acknowledge that tethered dogs are often frustrated, not socialized and have an increased potential to bite or attack people, she said.

City Manager Meg Kelsey said the proposed ordinance would come in with a phase in period over a year. The first six months would give residents time to learn about change in the ordinance and to prepare their yards if they need to fence in their yards for their animals. The following six months would be a warning period where animal control would provide an initial warning rather than a citation for violation.

Kelsey said she has spoken with animal control and they are supportive of the proposed change.

A first reading of the ordinance amendment was held during the LaGrange council meeting on Sept. 12. The amendment could be voted on and approved as early as the Sept. 26 council meeting.