Tethering of Dogs - Break the Chain . . .
Animal Services Ordinance Tightened:
The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners adopted revisions to the Pinellas County Animal Services ordinance. The following changes were adopted: (1) ban the tethering of unattended dogs & cats, (2) change the definition of a dangerous animal, and (3) reduce the holding time for impounded animals.
The new tethering provision is intended to prevent dogs and cats from being left alone and tied in a yard. It is also to protect the safety of the animal and improve the welfare of the animal.
- The owner or keeper of a dog or cat must remain outside with the animal while it is tethered.
- The owner or keeper of a dog or cat must keep the animal within sight.
- The tether must be of a size and weight necessary to safely restrain the dog or cat without placing excessive weight or strain on the dog or cat.
- If there are multiple animals, each one must be tethered separately so they do not get tangled.
- Tethering of dogs and cats that are sick or injured is prohibited.
The ordinance will be enforced primarily through education and warnings prior to issuing citations. There is a grace period to give citizens time to become educated and make the necessary adjustment to become compliant with the new requirements. However, pending investigation, citations and fines of up to $500 could be levied against owners who violate the ordinance. The effective date is May 1, 2015.
The holding times for stray animals turned in to Animal Services before being screened for adoption have been reduced to seven days for animals with identification, and to four days for animals without identification. The purpose is to quickly reunite lost animals with their owners or find new owners for unclaimed animals. The stress level and risk of disease increases with each day that an animal spends at a shelter.
(Pinellas County Code, Chapter 14, Article II, Animal Services,
Sections 14-26, 14-31, 14-48 and 14-64)
- What changes have been made to the Pinellas County Animal Services ordinance?
In order to promote animal welfare and public safety, three changes have been adopted:
(1) limit tethering of dogs, (2) change the definition of a dangerous animal, and (3) reduce the holding time for impounded animals.
- What is the new tethering provision?
The goal is to prevent dogs and cats from being left alone and tied in a yard. The new Section 14-31, Unlawful Restraint of Dogs, prohibits tethering of dogs and cats unless they are attended and the person with them is in sight of the animal.
- How will the new tethering restrictions be enforced?
The focus will be on education and warnings prior to issuing citations. However, pending investigation, citations and fines of up to $500 could be levied against dog and cat owners. The new ordinance will be effective May 1st, 2015.
- Will enforcement officers patrol neighborhoods looking for dogs that are tied up?
Animal Services staff will primarily respond to complaints from the public and will partner with other humane organizations to enforce the new code changes.
- What does it mean if my animal is classified as a “dangerous animal”?
Animal Services officers will investigate any incidents involving an animal that might be dangerous. After due process, if a finding of dangerous is upheld, the animal will be registered with Animal Services as a Dangerous Animal.
- What is the change for animal holding times?
The revision of Sec. 14-48(b) reduces holding times for impounded animals turned in to Animal Services from 10 days to seven days for animals with identification and from five days to four days for dogs without identification and from four days to three days for cats without identification.
- What happens after the holding time expires? Is the animal euthanized?
If an owner does not reclaim their pet before the time expires, the animal will be moved to the adoption area if it is healthy and has good temperament. The animal will stay in the adoption area until it is adopted or sent to another shelter. The animal will not be euthanized unless it is determined to be unadoptable due to behavioral or medical issues. Most responsible owners reclaim lost pets within the first few days of impoundment.
- If an impounded animal has some form of identification, is the owner informed?
Yes. Animal Services staff makes every effort to reunite pets with their owners. Incoming animals are checked for collar tag information and scanned for a microchip implant. Staff uses this ID information to send a letter or make a phone call to let the owner know that their pet has been found.
- Why change the holding times?
The reduction in hold time is partly a cost-savings measure, but it is primarily intended to keep animals healthy. Every day spent at a shelter increases an animal’s stress level and the possibility of contracting a disease. The goal is to return lost animals to their owners and to ensure that unclaimed animals are adopted by new owners as quickly as possible.
- What should I do if I see my neighbor tying up his dog all day?
Call Animal Services at (727) 582-2600 to request a consultation.
- What should I do if I lose my pet?
Call the Animal Services Lost or Found Pets Hotline at (727) 582-2604, or visit the shelter at 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo, to see if your pet is there. Check our on-line list of dogs at the shelter and a list of some of the dogs in the community
- How can I protect my pet from getting lost?
The best way to protect your animal is by implanting a microchip identification device which is available for $15 at Animal Services. Also, pets should always wear a collar with a county license attached. If a license tag is misplaced, Animal Services will provide a replacement tag for a nominal fee.
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