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Council to debate dog tethering

The Ashland City Council will consider a new ordinance that would make it illegal to tie up a dog at the owner's home or business for more than one hour.

The council meets at 6:45 tonight in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

In January 2006, resident Ambuja Rosen began lobbying the City Council to ban the tethering of animals. The issue is now on the council's agenda after Rosen spent the past year researching other cities' laws and meeting with Ashland officials.

The proposed ordinance has numerous provisions.

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162; Dogs must not be tethered at any time with chains or other devices without proper use of a collar or harness, and must not be tied with a chain, leash or rope that is less than 10 feet long.

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162; Dogs can only be tied for one hour at a time, with at least a three hour break between tetherings and a maximum of three hours per day spent tied. They cannot be tied with a heavy tether or in a way in way in which they could become entangled, injured or strangle.

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162; Dogs cannot be tied in an open area where they could be teased.

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162; Dogs that are at least six months of age must be kept in at least 97 square feet of space.

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162; Killing, maiming, torturing or mutilating an animal is unlawful. The provision does not apply to veterinary practices such as tail-docking or declawing, or accepted animal husbandry practices.

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162; Animals must not be abandoned or left in any place without provisions for proper care.

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162; Fresh food must be provided daily and water must be free-flowing or provided in a tip-resistant or secured container.

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162; Animals must have shade to protect them from the sun and a structure with bedding materials to protect them from the cold.

In a memo to City Councilors, City Administrator Martha Bennett said city staff members have concerns about their ability to enforce the proposed ordinance.

Interim Police Chief Ron Goodpaster recommended the tethering time limit be set at one hour to make enforcement as clear and objective as possible, the memo said.

Bennett said city staff recommend that, if adopted, the ordinance not go into effect until May — so that information can be provided to the public to minimize violations.

Rosen has asked that the requirement for adequate space be applied to cats. She also would like the space requirement to be increased from 97 square feet to 150 square feet.

City staff members proposed 97 square feet because that is the size of a readily available pre-constructed dog run, the memo said.

Rosen said extensions are available for standard dog runs.

The full text of the proposed ordinance is available at .

In other business, newly elected council members will be sworn in. Eric Navickas was elected to the council in the November 2006 election, while Councilors Kate Jackson and David Chapman won reelection. Councilor Alice Hardesty and David Chapman, who were appointed to their seats, also won election to their positions.

Mayor John Morrison will give his annual "State of the City" address.

Additionally, councilors will consider methods for making payments on AFN's $15.5 million debt. City staff recommend that AFN pay what it can toward the debt after covering its operating expenses, with other departments paying the rest. That would eventually lead to fee increases for other city services and reductions in money available for other departments, according to a memo to the council from Ashland Finance Director Lee Tuneberg.

For a full list of agenda items and for more information on each item, visit

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or .