Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 082976
   Clerk's Official Copy   

File Number: 082976 File Type: Ordinance Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: 08-120 Control:
File Name: ANTI-TETHERING ORDINANCE Introduced: 10/15/2008
Requester: Animal Services Cost: Final Action: 10/7/2008
Agenda Date: 10/7/2008 Agenda Item Number: 7K
Notes: THIS IS FINAL VERSION AS ADOPTED. (also see 081388) Title: ORDINANCE PERTAINING TO ANIMALS; CREATING SECTION 5-21 AND AMENDING SECTION 8CC-10 OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY (THE “CODE”); REGULATING THE TETHERING OF DOGS; PROVIDING AUTHORITY FOR ENFORCEMENT BY CIVIL PENALTY; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE [SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 081388]
Indexes: ANIMALS
Sponsors: Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Prime Sponsor
  Carlos A. Gimenez, Co-Sponsor
  Sally A. Heyman, Co-Sponsor
  Dennis C. Moss, Co-Sponsor
  Dorrin D. Rolle, Co-Sponsor
  Katy Sorenson, Co-Sponsor
  Rebeca Sosa, Co-Sponsor
  Sen. Javier D. Souto, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

County Attorney 10/15/2008 Assigned Dennis A. Kerbel

Board of County Commissioners 10/7/2008 7K AMENDED Adopted as amended P
REPORT: First Assistant County Attorney Abigail Price-Williams read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. Commissioner Diaz noted animals needed to be treated with love and owners tethering and abandoning them was unacceptable. Commissioners Souto and Rolle asked that they be listed as co-sponsors. Commissioner Jordan noted this proposed ordinance was problematic for a dog owner who did not have a fenced yard. She pointed out the only way for dog owners who did not have a fenced yard to keep their dogs was to keep them inside their house. Mr. Alan Rigerman, 17910 NW 84 Avenue, appeared before the County Commission and spoke in opposition to this proposed ordinance. Commissioner Seijas expressed concern regarding the impact of this proposed ordinance on people who did not have fenced yards. She noted a policy regarding the tethering of dogs needed to address cruelty to animals and common sense. Dr. Sara Pizano, Director, Animal Services, explained this proposed ordinance would be effective six months after the Commission adopted it to provide the County time to educate the community and reach out to dog trainers. She pointed out the punishment for a dog owner’s first violation of this proposed ordinance would be a warning providing the owner 30 days to correct the violation. She noted the County would provide free dog obedience classes. Dr. Pizano pointed out Florida State law did not protect dogs if they had food, shelter, and water. She noted no major animal welfare organization favored tethering dogs and they all considered it an act of cruelty. She explained that the County was reaching out to the sectors of the community that were impacted by the fencing issue. Commissioner Seijas noted the County could not afford to build fences for dog owners who did not have a fenced yard, and private companies were unlikely to donate time or resources. She expressed concern that this proposed ordinance did not provide an exception for dog owners who could not afford a fence, but their dogs did not have any signs of mistreatment. Discussion ensued between Commissioner Jordan and Dr. Pizano regarding the impact of this proposed ordinance on the rate of dogs being adopted and dogs being euthanized. Commissioner Seijas emphasized that this proposed ordinance was too idealistic and needed to better address reality. Commissioner Sosa suggested this proposed ordinance be amended to add a provision that houses without a fence could have a chained dog to preserve the life of the dog. Commissioner Sorenson explained pet ownership required being responsible for caring and nurturing that pet and ensuring the pet was not tortured. She noted the importance of teaching children to properly care for pets. Following comments by Commissioner Souto regarding the Commission addressing the issue of attack dogs being kept in front yards that had fences that the dogs could jump over, Commissioner Heyman noted the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida did not permit fences in some subdivisions. She pointed out this proposed ordinance was driven by consumer complaints. She suggested the Commission adopt this proposed ordinance and amend it, as necessary, in the future. Commissioner Edmonson pointed out some dogs could jump over fences, and the only option for the owners of these dogs was to tether their dogs. Responding to Chairman Barriero’s comment that this proposed ordinance should include a time limit for how long a dog could be tethered, Dr. Pizano noted a time limit would require officers to watch and document the dog was tethered for the specified time limit. Commissioner Martinez questioned the impact of amending this proposed ordinance to delete “the responsible party is located outside with the dog” from Section 5-21.(b)1. Dr. Pizano noted the impact of the amendment questioned by Commissioner Martinez was that dog owners could leave their dogs tethered for long periods of time. In response to Commissioner Martinez questioning whether this proposed ordinance could be amended to delete the $250 civil penalty for unlawfully tethering a dog, Assistant County Attorney Dennis Kerbel advised each County department had the discretion on code enforcement decisions. Commissioner Martinez expressed concern that this proposed ordinance would become a mechanism to generate funds for Animal Services. He noted the officers would issue violations based on their interpretation of the law and the situation. County Manager Burgess noted generating revenues should not be the objective for proposing this type of legislation. He noted the objective was proper care of the animal, and the department needed a way to punish repeat offenders. Responding to Commissioner Martinez’s question whether the civil penalty could be changed to a second degree misdemeanor, Assistant County Attorney Kerbel advised code violations were considered misdemeanors. Commissioner Diaz pointed out some dog owners lived in apartments and they were able to care for their dogs without a yard or fence. Commissioner Sosa noted this proposed ordinance would have limited success if it did not have a penalty. She suggested this proposed ordinance be amended to indicate the monies collected from the civil penalty would be used to help abused animals. Commissioner Seijas expressed concern regarding the amount of the civil penalty. She suggested the civil penalty be decreased. Following discussion between Commissioners Diaz and Seijas regarding the amount of the civil penalty, Commissioner Diaz amended this proposed ordinance as follows: • that the penalty for violating Section 5-21 of the Code of Miami-Dade County would be a warning for the first violation, $100.00 for the second violation, and $500.00 for each subsequent violation; and • that the monies collected from the civil penalty be used to help abused animals. Commissioner Seijas asked the County Manager to provide the County Commission, in six months, with a report detailing the educational outreach done by the County regarding the tethering of dogs. She indicated this report should include the number of people that were educated, the number of dogs that were impacted by the educational outreach, and the provision to address the middle ground between the conditions in this proposed ordinance and no restrictions on tethering. Commissioner Jordan asked the County Manager to include in the report requested by Commissioner Seijas a comparison to the current figures of the number of dogs euthanized and the adoption trend for dogs before and after this proposed ordinance was adopted. Commissioner Jordan noted she opposed the implication in this proposed ordinance that people should not own dogs if they could not afford to live in a house with a fenced yard. Commissioner Edmonson asked the County Manager to include in the report that Commissioner Seijas requested the number of appeals to the no tethering law that were denied and that were granted, as well as the total number of appeals to code violations and the number of successful appeals from October 2007 to October 2008. Following discussion among Commissioner Martinez, County Manager Burgess, and Dr. Pizano regarding the entity that would receive the revenue generated from the civil penalty, the Commission proceeded to vote on this proposed ordinance as amended as follows: • That the penalty for violating Section 5-21 of the Code of Miami-Dade County would be a warning for the first violation, $100.00 for the second violation, and $500.00 for each subsequent violation; • that 75% of the monies collected be allocated to the Animal Services Trust Fund and that 25% of the monies collected be allocated to the Animal Services Department operating expenses; and • that a report be provided to the County Commission in six months with the following information: o the educational outreach done by the County regarding the tethering of dogs; o the number of people that were educated and the number of dogs that were impacted by the educational outreach; o the proposed provision to address the middle ground between the conditions in this proposed ordinance and no restrictions on tethering; o the figures for the number of dogs euthanized in the County and the adoption trend for dogs in the County before and after this proposed ordinance was adopted; and o the number of appeals to Section 5-21 that were denied and granted, as well as the total number of appeals to Code violations and the number of successful appeals from October 2007 to October 2008.

Legislative Text


TITLE
ORDINANCE PERTAINING TO ANIMALS; CREATING SECTION 5-21 AND AMENDING SECTION 8CC-10 OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY (THE “CODE”); REGULATING THE TETHERING OF DOGS; PROVIDING AUTHORITY FOR ENFORCEMENT BY CIVIL PENALTY; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE

BODY
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA:
Section 1. Section 5-21 of the Code of Miami-Dade County is hereby created as follows:1
Sec. 5-21. Tethering of dogs.

(a) As used in this section, tether means to restrain a dog by tying the dog to any object or structure, including without limitation a house, tree, fence, post, garage, or shed, by any means, including without limitation a chain, rope, cord, leash, or running line. Tethering shall not include using a leash to walk a dog.
(b) It shall be unlawful for a responsible party to tether a dog while outdoors, except when all of the following conditions are met:
(1) The dog is in visual range of the responsible party, and the responsible party is located outside with the dog.
(2) The tether is connected to the dog by a buckle-type collar or a body harness made of nylon or leather, not less than one inch in width.
(3) The tether has the following properties: it is at least five times the length of the dog’s body, as measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail; it terminates at both ends with a swivel; it does not weigh more than 1/8 of the dog's weight; and it is free of tangles.
(4) The dog is tethered in such a manner as to prevent injury, strangulation, or entanglement.
(5) The dog is not outside during a period of extreme weather, including without limitation extreme heat or near-freezing temperatures, thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms, or hurricanes.
(6) The dog has access to water, shelter, and dry ground.
(7) The dog is at least six months of age. Puppies shall not be tethered.
(8) The dog is not sick or injured.
(9) Pulley, running line, or trolley systems are at least 15 feet in length and are less than 7 feet above the ground.
(10) If there are multiple dogs, each dog is tethered separately.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to excuse a violation of § 5-20 of this chapter.
(d) This section shall not apply to the transportation of dogs, and in the event of a conflict with § 5-15 of this chapter, § 5-15 shall govern.
(e) For a first-time violation, the Department shall issue a warning notice to the responsible party and shall wait at least thirty (30) days before taking any further enforcement action against the responsible party. Thereafter, each violation of this section shall be subject to enforcement in accordance with § 5-2 of this chapter. For all civil penalties for violations of this section collected pursuant to Chapter 8CC, 75% of the amount collected shall be paid to the Animal Services Trust Fund, created by Miami-Dade County Resolution No. R-1385-06, as may be amended from time to time.

Section 2. Section 8CC-10 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida is hereby amended to read as follows:
Sec. 8CC-10. Schedule of civil penalties.

The following table shows the sections of this Code, as they may be amended from time to time, which may be enforced pursuant to the provisions of this chapter; and the dollar amount of civil penalty for the violation of these sections as they may be amended.

The "descriptions of violations" below are for informational purposes only and are not meant to limit or define the nature of the violations or the subject matter of the listed Code sections, except to the extent that different types of violations of the same Code section may carry different civil penalties. For each Code section listed in the schedule of civil penalties, the entirety of that section may be enforced by the mechanism provided in this Chapter 8CC, regardless of whether all activities proscribed or required within that particular section are described in the "Description of Violation" column. To determine the exact nature of any activity proscribed or required by this Code, the relevant Code section must be examined.

Code Section
Description of Violation
Civil Penalty
>>5-21
Unlawful tethering of dog – First Offense
Warning

Unlawful tethering of dog – Second Offense
$100.00

Unlawful tethering of dog – Each Subsequent Offense
$500.00<<

Section 3. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance shall not be affected by such invalidity.
Section 4. It is the intention of the Board of County Commissioners, and it is hereby ordained that the provisions of this ordinance, including any sunset provision, shall become and be made part of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The sections of this ordinance may be renumbered or relettered to accomplish such intention, and the word “ordinance” may be changed to “section,” “article,” or other appropriate word.
Section 5. This ordinance shall become effective one hundred and eighty (180) days after the date of enactment unless vetoed by the Mayor, and if vetoed, shall become effective only upon an override by this Board.
1 Words stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted. Words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.

HEADER
Date:

To: Honorable Chairman Bruno A. Barreiro
and Members, Board of County Commissioners

From: George M. Burgess
County Manager

Subject:Anti-tethering ordinance


Recommendation
It is recommended that the Board of County Commissioners (Board) approve the attached ordinance regulating the tethering of dogs, requiring that owners be present if their dogs are tethered.

Scope
An anti-tethering ordinance would affect Miami-Dade County in its entirety.

Fiscal Impact/Funding Source
No additional resources will be requested in association with this ordinance.

Track Record/Monitor
Animal Services is a ‘complaint driven’ department. Service requests are addressed in order of priority and statistics analyzed on an ongoing basis by the department. This category of complaints will be tracked within the departmental database.

Background

By nature, dogs require socialization. Tethering or chaining a dog continually is not the recommended way to house a dog for many reasons. When threatened, dogs will have a ‘fight or flight’ response. When chained, they are unable to run to get out of harm’s way and are therefore forced to fight out of fear. In a 2003 press release concerning dog bites, the American Veterinary Medical Association stated, ‘Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggression’. Additionally, in the American Humane Association’s Fiscal Year 2005-2006 Annual Report, it stated ‘tethering of dogs is a major risk factor in dog bites and represents a serious, under-recognized form of animal cruelty’.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) took a position in 1997 by enforcing the Federal Animal Welfare Act (FAWA). The USDA concluded that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane because a tether significantly restricts a dog's movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog's shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog's movement and potentially causing injury. The FAWA covers dogs in research, circuses or breeding colonies.
Since 1997, many major national animal welfare organizations have supported anti-tethering legislation to include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. To date, the states of California, Texas, Virginia and Connecticut have banned tethering along with over 100 cities and counties nationwide. The state of Florida has been analyzing such legislation recently.



On January 22, 2008, an anti-tethering section was included in the re-write of Chapter V of the Miami Dade County Code and was presented to the Board. While the Board approved the changes in Chapter V, it was requested that the anti-tethering section be removed and reintroduced independently at a later time.

In the interest of properly educating our citizens, the department will delay the enforcement of an anti-tethering law for six months after passing the ordinance to ensure the community is well-informed on the issue. Outreach will be done to include press releases, posting information on the Animal Services website, updating our ‘It’s the Law!’ flyer, publishing articles in the local veterinary association newsletter and posting information in the shelter. Once the grace period has passed, a 30 day warning will be given to first-time violators prior to the issuance of a citation.








_______________________________
Assistant County Manager



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