City of Madison adopts new animal tethering ordinance

MADISON, Ala. - The City of Madison has a new animal tethering ordinance in place. It ensures that you can not restrain pets with a leash or tether unless you are outside watching them.

Mayor Paul Finley said this is not a big problem that is something the city is trying to immediately correct. Instead, they want to make sure there are laws on the books to get the animals some help from animal control officers with the Madison Police Department if they need it.

"This simply gives our police department an opportunity and more teeth, were something that was happening improperly with animals, to be taken care of," said Mayor Paul Finley.

Monday, the council changed the ordinance to state in part, "It shall be unlawful for the owner or custodian of any animal to: 'Restrain an unattended animal with a leash or tether, or fixed point chaining or tethering the animal, to a stationary object, including but not limited to a house, tree, fence, post, garage, or shed.'

Attorneys said the first offense will be a $250 fine, the second a $500 fine, and the third 10 days in jail.

The city council approved it 4-1, with Greg Shaw not present and Gerald Clark against.

While leaders said it gives police a tool to investigate complaints and make sure animals are treated humanely, others wondered if it'll be difficult to enforce.

"I don't think just because Huntsville has it, we need to have it. I think it's going a little bit too far," said Bebe Oetjen during public comment at Monday's city council meeting.

Finley reiterated that this unlawful tethering only refers to animals that are unattended. You can still walk your dog with a leash and keep them tied up safely while you are outside with them doing yard work.

"This would only be used for unattended animals that are deemed unsafe," he said "We don't see this as being needed very often. But... if there were a problem, this gives our police department something to hang their hat on to do something about it."

Finley said this follows what neighboring cities are doing with their animal ordinances.

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