LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)- In a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, Lynchburg City Council made it illegal to tether your dog during certain times and conditions.
Under the ordinance, police can charge a pet-owner for tying a dog up between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., if the dog is sick or injured, "in heat", under the age of four months, or if the tethering is likely to injure the dog.
City Council also limited how long dogs can be left outside in extreme weather conditions. The second part of the ordinance makes it illegal to leave a dog outside for more than one half hour when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 95 degrees.
"This is about making sure that dogs aren't mistreated," said Council Member Beau Wright.
Wright first brought attention to the issue during a January meeting. Council then asked staff to meet with stakeholders and write an ordinance for future review.
The Chief Animal Warden, Police Chief, and others have met with advocate groups in Lynchburg to discuss the ordinance.
If a person violates the law, he/she will be subject to a Class four misdemeanor. If a pet-owner is charged with breaking the law subsequent times, they could have their dog taken away from them.
Several council members had concerns over the volume of work that the ordinance may add for police officers.
Chief Ryan Zuidema told Council that the law will be enforced on a complaint basis. He also said that the officers will field the calls based on priority.
Council Members Turner Perrow and Jeff Helgeson both voted against the ordinance.
Helgeson said, "do what government should do."
He added that he thought some of the restrictions were arbitrary.
"We have to understand that people love their pets and let's just not make the assumption that everybody is bad and we got to do something," said Helgeson.
Perrow raised similar concerns over the restrictions.
"This isn't about penalizing people who treat their dogs humanely and with respect," said Wright. "There have been sadly too many cases locally of tethered dogs being treated cruelly, including a strangulation case earlier this month. There is a need for this ordinance."
The Communications and Marketing staff will now work to educate citizens on the new law. They estimate marketing costs to be about $2,000.
Copyright 2019 WDBJ. All rights reserved.