By Shari Phiel
Larimer County Commissioners voted unanimously on Monday, July 20 to approve changes to the county’s existing animal control ordinance. Changes include new regulation on when and how dogs can be tethered in their owner’s yards and applies only to unincorporated Larimer County.
While the ordinance does not ban chaining dogs entirely, it does restrict owners from using tethers less than 10 feet in length or from using chains that are “too heavy or too big for the size and weight of the animal so that the animal is prohibited from moving about freely.”
Capt. Bill Porter, director of animal control with the Larimer Humane Society, notes the new ordinance is not intended to restrict pet owners, but to allow pets and their owners to “cohabitate safely.”
Under the animal control ordinance, dog owners may not “restrain a dog by a fixed point chain or tether for a period of time or under conditions that an animal control officer or animal cruelty investigator deems harmful or potentially harmful to the animal.”
While Porter noted it isn’t a prevalent issue in the county, the humane society does see dogs inappropriately restrained on occasion. “What we’ve seen are dogs that get tangled up, tangle themselves up around a tree, and we go out there again and again and again to get the dog loose.” Porter noted in these situations the dogs don’t have access to food, water or shelter and in extreme weather can put the dogs’ lives at risk.
Additional changes include prohibiting an animal from being chained or tethered in such a way that the animal “can become entangled and prevent the animal from moving about freely, lying down comfortably or having access to adequate food, water and shelter.” Also, using the chain or tether as the animal’s primary collar is prohibited. Primary collars must be made from cotton, nylon, leather or a similar material.
Several organizations have already spoken out against tethering dogs, including the Humane Society of the United States of America, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Veterinary Medical Association noting dogs that are consistently tethered have a great rate of aggression. “Dogs have that fight or flight mentality,” added Porter, “If they can’t fly, then they’re going to fight.”
As the ordinance changes only apply to unincorporated Larimer County, animal control laws within the city limits of Fort Collins, Loveland and other towns would apply to those areas.