The city of Dayton is considering changing its laws to reduce the amount of time a dog can be tethered and allow law enforcement officers to seize and impound canines that are "improperly" restrained.
Nearly four years ago, the Dayton City Commission approved an ordinance prohibiting dog owners from chaining or tethering their canines for more than two consecutive hours during a 12-hour period.
The law was approved months after Klonda Richey was mauled to death by her neighbors’ dogs. Richey had sought protection from the dogs and her neighbors leading up to her death.
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The existing code, though a good policy position, is extremely difficult to enforce because it requires a lot of resources, said Andrew Sexton, chief counsel with the city of Dayton prosecutor’s office.
“It’s enforceability is an issue,” he said.
The city proposes amending city code to forbid dogs from being tethered for more than 30 consecutive minutes.
Dogs, however, can be chained, tied up and restrained if their owners are outside with the animals.
The city also proposes allowing law enforcement officer to seize and impound dogs that are tethered in ways that violate the law.
“Previous to this, we didn’t have the ability under our local code to impound improperly confined dogs,” Sexton said.
Officers would be required to notify the dog owners of the seizure and impoundment by written messages.
Hearings would be held within 10 days of the seizure, or at the next available court date, to determine if the officers had probable cause to seize the animals.
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Dogs seized by law enforcement “may be humanely destroyed immediately” or at any time during the impoundment if a licensed veterinarian determines it is necessary because they animals are suffering, the proposed ordinance states.
Dog owners who are convicted of an offense may be required to pay the costs of impounding the dog and for the care it received, the ordinance says. Violations are a minor misdemeanor.
The improper tethering and confinement of dogs is inhumane, and studies show that canines that are suffering may engage in aggressive behaviors, city officials said.
Officials admit that enforcing the city’s anti-tethering ordinance was challenging.
Across the city, there were seven citations issued for unlawful tethering of dogs between June 2014 and June 2017, this newspaper found.
Neighbors and officials have said that the laws currently on the books rarely lead to citations, because it is not practical to monitor a dog that is chained or tied up for two hours straight.
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City officials say that dogs that are poorly socialized and mistreated pose a threat to public safety, and dogs that are chained up too long often bark excessively, harming the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
In April 2017, Dayton resident Maurice Brown was killed after being attacked by a dog chained up behind a home on Middle Street. Neighbors said they never saw the dog off its tether. No criminal charges have been filed in the case.
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