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The People Have Spoken: Dog-Chaining Outlawed in Hampton

Dog chained. Photo credit: Humane Society of the United States
Dog chained. Photo credit: Humane Society of the United States
July 25, 2012

HAMPTON, Va. - There is some truth to the old expression "meaner than a junkyard dog," according to the majority of voters in Hampton.

The practice of keeping dogs tethered for extended time periods is said to make the animals angry and aggressive - and now, it will be illegal to chain dogs for any period of time in Hampton.

The new law is the result of an online poll by the city, says Hampton communications director Robin McCormick. After much debate, she says, the city posted the survey online for about a week and received more than 2,000 responses to questions about tethering dogs.

"There really was overwhelming support for getting rid of tethering altogether. Fifty seven percent of the people said tethering should not be allowed; it's inherently not good for animals."

Seven percent of respondents felt differently, and said the city shouldn't ban dog tethering at all. McCormick says the new law won't go into effect until Jan. 1 to allow people time to make different arrangements for their animals. In the meantime, the city will make efforts to educate people about humane treatment for their pets.

Robin Starr, chief executive of the Richmond chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says a similar anti-tethering law enacted there in 2007 has been successful. She would like to see similar laws throughout the state and says the practice of tethering animals is common in the dog-fighting world.

"We know that there are a lot of people who leave their dogs out for long periods of time - in fact, many of them 24/7 for their entire lives. It does make dogs extremely aggressive, behaviorally."

The practice not only is cruel and dangerous for the animals, Starr says, but it also puts humans at risk. There have been a number of incidents where dogs have attacked people who wander into areas where the dogs are tied up.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA