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PETA pushes for change

JACKSON – “We’re not going to make this decision. It’s going to be a citizen decision.”

That’s what Northampton County Board of Commissioners Chair Charles Tyner said after a presentation from members of PETA who urged for amendments to the county’s dog ordinance. The discussion was held at the commissioners’ meeting here on Jan. 20.

“The majority of animals we assist in the community are dogs who are kept chained outside 24/7 in all weather and often without the basic necessities of life,” explained PETA representative Rachel Bellis. “Dogs are social animals and it’s totally unnatural to keep them tethered all the time.”

Bellis went on to explain that keeping a dog chained up outside often leads to negative effects on the animal including wounds and infections, severe flystrike, and sometimes being unable to access food or water or shelter in extreme heat or cold.

“Many of the dogs become aggressive as a result of this constant confinement,” added Daphna Nachminovitch, who serves as PETA’s Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations.

She shared an example of a dog they visited in Woodland who was so aggressive from chaining that he attacked a child who got too close.

“If a dog like that breaks free from the chain, the entire community is in danger,” she continued.

Both PETA representatives said they have worked closely with several local towns and counties to implement ordinances which ban tethering. They also encourage outreach and education about how to humanely treat dogs and other animals.

The suggested amendments to the ordinance include prohibiting continuous tethering of dogs outdoors without supervision, and requiring adequate care, exercise, food, shelter, water, and clean living conditions.

“The overall benefit to the community is remarkable,” Nachminovitch concluded.

“What happens if someone can’t afford an enclosed structure for dogs they have right now,” asked Commissioner Geneva Faulkner after the presentation.

Nachminovitch answered that in the past, the organization has worked to help people who may have those issues. She also reported that, in more than two decades with PETA, she’s never seen an increase of people surrendering their dogs because they can’t comply with the tethering ordinance.

Tyner wrapped up the discussion by suggesting that more citizens should be involved in the decision before the board takes a vote on the proposed changes. He directed County Manager Charles Jackson to get a group together to talk about the concerns and see how much of an issue it is in the county.

PETA has previously proposed these ordinance changes, but no action has yet to be taken in Northampton County.