An Athens group is working to make animal tethering illegal

ATHENS Ala. -- Tethering, or tying up an animal to a stationary object, has restrictions in 32 states and D.C., according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. A group in Athens is working to make that practice illegal in the city. The group planned to address the Athens City Council on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Head trainer at Kind Hearts Dog Training Center, Mary Graham, says tethering has to stop. She said most tethered dogs are not cared for very well.

"People forget to feed them, they're not in their line of sight.  They've got other things going on so the dog doesn't get feed, maybe doesn't have access to water. If they're outside they don't have access to shelter," Graham said. "They can get hung up on things, and that's a really huge problem. They get hung up on a fence, or they get caught up with the tether, and they've got no way to escape."

Graham says it's not only harmful to the dog, but it is also dangerous for humans. "What you end up with is a dog that is frustrated and a dog that can't get away. Frightened dogs bite, that's just a reality of life. Unfortunately, the people most likely to be bit are children."

She said tethered dogs are much more likely to bit than a loose dog. "You can't blame a dog for wanting to protect itself. It doesn't have the option. Fight or flight, it can't flee, so it's gotta fight."

Graham says many people tether their dog to avoid the expense of fencing. She says that you don't need a fence to be a responsible pet owner, you can let the dog live inside the house, but you have to take it out for exercise.

"That's part of owning a dog is being responsible for it. Chaining it in the yard, that's not part of a responsible relationship," Graham said. "Anyone around that dog is gonna be at risk."