Sumter County commissioners reject measure regulating chaining dogs outside

Chaining your dog outside without being present would have been illegal under a proposed anti-tethering ordinance that was rejected Tuesday night by Sumter County commissioners.

Tethering or tying up a dog is legal under the current ordinance as long as the animal is provided with accessible shelter, food and water.

The new ordinance, rejected on a 4-1 vote, would have required that someone be present if an animal is tethered.

The lone supporter, Commissioner Oren Miller, said he wanted to see the ordinance enforced only on a complaint basis.

“This is not meant as a witch hunt,” he said, adding that 23 states have anti-tethering laws. “This is meant to protect the animals that are abused.

But Commissioner Doug Gilpin said the tougher ordinance is unnecessary.

“I don’t believe we should be sticking the county’s nose into people’s business,” he said. “It’s troublesome to me when people come to Florida and Sumter County and they want to change everything about our way of life.”

The proposed ordinance illustrated a rural-urban divide between city dwellers who view their pets as family members and country folks who value dogs for their utility.

Terry Yoder of Lake Panasoffkee said he loves dogs as much as anyone, but doesn’t believe that tethering is wrong.

“I’m a hunter,” he said. “I’ve got a cattle farm. I’ve got dogs I’ve trained.”

He said puppies are tethered so they can get used to wearing collars.

“I would not be able to put my dog on a leash and snap him to my tailgate,” he said, under the proposed ordinance.

Marilyn Iskra said the proposed ordinance would be a “tethering ban and a very strict one at that.”

She said dogs often are humanely tethered for sports or other activities.

Iskra said tethering bans can be discriminatory against poorer residents who cannot afford fences for their dogs.

Commissioner Gary Search said the issue is more complicated than a simple ban.

“There is a fine line here between tethering abuse and tethering training,” he said.

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