LaGRANGE — In a passionate and tearful plea Tuesday, a city resident ardently pressed the mayor and City Council to ban dog owners from chaining their dogs citywide.
Evie Kettler of Lindsay Taylor Drive addressed City Council during their regular meeting and strongly questioned the wording of a proposed city ordinance to regulate the restraining of dogs.
“The (proposed) ordinance says that if the dog is on a tether, the owner or custodian must be on the premises,” she said. “The question I have is how will anyone know when the owner is on the premises?”
Council ultimately tabled the ordinance in favor of more discussion, which is planned for its next meeting.
Kettler is concerned because she said some dog owners leave their pets unattended on short chains or tethers, which can become entangled and also isolate the dog, leading to aggressive behavior.
“It’s one thing to put a dog on a tether or trolley temporarily, but it is never OK to do it all the time,” she said. “Any breed of dog forced to live in isolation at the end of a chain can — and does — become aggressive.”
To illustrate her point, Kettler brought a 10-foot metal chain with her and asked council members to handle it.
“Imagine living your life on a 10-foot chain,” she said. “Eating, sleeping and just existing. This is no life for something we consider to be a family member.”
The proposed ordinance says that dog owners may keep their pets on 10-foot chains or cables. The dog’s owner must be in the area while the dog is tethered and the chain may not weigh more than 25 percent of the dog’s body weight. Wrapping the chain directly around the dog’s neck as a collar is also prohibited.
Kettler said she doesn’t understand why the city doesn’t ban outright the practice of chaining, which the city ordinance calls “tethering,” as West Point has already done and Hogansville is considering.
She argued that chaining a dog makes it vulnerable and unable to protect itself from other animals.
“Female dogs can still be impregnated by wandering dogs and their food and water can be tipped over,” she said. “They still won’t get the exercise they need. The dog will still be isolated, and human companionship is essential to a dog.”
During the meeting, Councilman Bobby Traylor countered that some people need to keep their dogs on tethers or trolleys. He told Kettler about a man he’d recently visited who is disabled and needs the trolley system to keep watch on his dog.
Mayor Jim Thornton said Wednesday he sees both sides of the debate.
“I think it’s just a balancing act that the council has to do,” he said by phone. “I’m completely against the tethering of dogs, and I wish that it was a practice no one felt necessary to employ. I do realize some people have dogs and using a tethering device makes sense for them. I think we’re just trying to find a balance there.”
Kettler said a key part of the issue is that having a dog — or any pet — is an elective decision.
“Having a dog is a choice, not something that’s forced on people,” she said. “Therefore, a dog should not be forced to live on a trolley or tether its entire life.”
The ordinance will be revisited at the next City Council meeting scheduled for Oct. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the council’s meeting chambers, 208 Ridley Ave. The meeting is open to the public.
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.