Langley City is looking at updating its dog control bylaw after a presentation by the Campaign for Animal Rights Legislation asked it to ban dog tethering.
Area animal rights advocates spoke at the Jan. 21 council meeting, offering up heart-wrenching tales of Lower Mainland dogs who spent their days and nights chained and with little or no human or animal contact.
"Imagine the mind-numbing boredom of sitting in the same spot every day," said Janet Olson.
She noted that in addition to the physical and mental cruelty of tethering, some tethered dogs accidently strangle themselves when they become entangled or the chain/tether catches on something.
The campaign is approaching municipal governments to ban unattended chaining/tethering. Burnaby, New West, Delta, Lion's Bay, Victoria and Calgary as well as more than 200 U.S. communities have enacted such bans. Surrey and Richmond are considering bans.
The campaign is lobbying municipalities to get antitethering laws on their books.
"This cruelty is entirely supported" by federal and provincial law, she noted.
Olson added that chained dogs are three times more likely to bite than unchained dogs and 88 per cent of the victims are children.
"Feedback from local and US communities that have passed anti-tethering legislation shows that the incidence of dog bites decreased significantly," she said. "An additional benefit of a tethering ban is a decrease in cruelty complaints, resulting in a reduced animal control officer workload."
Some communities allow a certain amount of tethering per day while others have outright bans, which requires less staff time to investigate complaints.
Olson said there are times when animals have to be confined for their own protection or the safety of people and property, but more humane options should be used.
"I would like to have a clear definition of what's considered too long," said Councillor Dave Hall.
Staff will be investigating current policy, numbers of animal complaints and related issues before presenting a report to City council with recommendations.
Olsen noted that an anti-tethering ban would also make it impossible for puppy mills and dog fights to operate since the animals are confined for long stretches.
The Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) is contracted to provide animal control for both Langley City and Township. It's not a big issue in this community.
"It is certainly not something that I can recall ever being reported to LAPS," said shelter manager Sean Baker.
After the meeting Olson told the Langley Advance that the bylaw and animal control offices don't receive the chaining complaints because technically it's not illegal to tether a dog and leave it alone for days on end.
Olson used to be involved with A Better Life Dog Rescue and said the group used to get two to three calls each week about chained dogs.
She said the campaign isn't about letting dogs run free. They must still be controlled, but humanely, she said.
People who use tethered dogs for security are more at risk for crime, she said.
"It's actually a perfect thing," Olson said. Burglars know the tethered dogs can't get near the house and can often be made docile with some kind words and treats because they are lonely.
"There are very few robbers who will enter a home if they hear a dog inside," she told the Advance.
The Campaign for Animal Rights Legislation started about 10 months ago and plans to speak to other Lower Mainland municipal councils to encourage the ban and will lobby for the province to change the laws. Olson said the group will look at rallies at provincial sites to encourage legal changes.