Delaware Council debates time frame for animal tethering

Councilman Chris Jones, 1st Ward, said Delaware City Council would be wasting its time if it approved a draft amendment to the city’s companion animal neglect law.

The draft ordinance includes restrictions on tethering pets outside. It adds a first-degree misdemeanor charge if the pet is physically harmed because of the violations.

“I really think there’s got to be a time frame,” Jones said at the council meeting on Monday. He referenced such laws in Cleveland, which prohibits tethering from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., but allows for shorter periods during the day.

City Attorney Darren Shulman said time restrictions were not included because it would be difficult to enforce.

“What we have in here right now is pretty well drafted and we’re confident … that this is defensible and prosecutable, and enforceable,” he said. “But if there are other goals and things, we can work our best way to get them in.”

Jones said time restrictions should be included, but the intention is not to have law enforcement “sit outside and police these things.”

The councilman noted he has already heard feedback from groups who support the amendment, but for different reasons. Some people are annoyed when tethered dogs bark all day, while others say children can’t walk down certain streets because tethered dogs approach them, Jones said.

“This thing has grown multiple legs besides just a neglect issue,” he said.

Jones said including time frames would help deter homeowners from engaging in the activity.

Council members Lisa Keller and Kyle Rohrer — who both own dogs — expressed concern about prohibiting tethering at night because they let their dogs out for “bathroom” purposes for a few minutes.

Jones said the restrictions would target homeowners who have their dogs tethered 24/7. An exception could be included to allow dogs to be tethered at night for no more than two consecutive hours.

Shulman said he will present a revised amendment based on the feedback at a later meeting.

Twenty-one states and Washington D.C. have restrictive tethering laws, according to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. There are 13 Ohio communities with similar laws and one community that prohibits tethering entirely.

In other business, council:

• Had a first reading of its five-year Capital Improvement Plan. City Manager R. Thomas Homan will provide an overview of the CIP at the Sept. 11 meeting. Council will have a work session on Oct. 2.

The plan is out of balance from 2019 to 2022. The city manager proposes a $350,000 allocation to The Point project to help meet an estimated $6.2 million funding gap. The project will cost more than $25 million. Adoption is scheduled for Oct. 9.

• Approved resolutions to participate in an Ohio Public Works Commission grant program. These resolutions will replace ones approved at prior meeting as Heffner Street will replace Union Street to be resurfaced. Heffner was identified as a street to be resurfaced in the 2018 CIP, according to a city prepared fact sheet.

By Brandon Klein

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Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.