ATL Animal Control to begin issuing citations

The Atlanta Police Department’s Animal Control Division will this month begin issuing citations to dog owners that restrain their pets in ways that violate Texas Health and Safety Code regulations.
This new approach, meant to address situations around town in which dogs were chained or otherwise restrained in violation of state code, was announced in late May. Some animals were being tied using chains not much longer than the animals themselves, and also kept outdoors in all manner of weather conditions, according to Animal Control Officer Barbara Adams. 
Enforcing the state health and safety codes was aimed at curtailing that. The Animal Control Division issued warnings in June and July, while letting people know that beginning Aug. 1, Class C Misdemeanor citations could be given instead.
“The warning period is over,” Adams said.
During the grace period over the past two months, there have been few major problems, Adams reported last week. Of the dog owners whose animals were restrained incorrectly, she added, “They’ve come around and complied.
“The law is they have to either be on a chain that is five times their length from the nose to the tip of the tail, or on a run,” Adams continued. “A lot of people are calling in saying, ‘this dog is on a chain’ and I go out there and measure it and the dog’s OK. But not always.
“All you’ve got to do is put a clothes line up and let the dog run back and forth, so whatever chain they’re on, they can travel back and forth between two objects.”
Atlanta’s municipal ordinance related to restraining pets states it’s unlawful for an animal “owned, kept or harbored” to run at large, and also addresses other nuisance-related issues. It’s a leash law, and pretty basic.
But Chapter 821 of Texas Health and Safety Code/Title 10 contains more specific regulations related to how dogs should be tied when left outdoors.
According to section 821.077, “an owner may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the dog’s movement” -- that includes use of “pinch-type, prong-type, or choke-type” collars, or collars that are not properly fitted. (A properly fitted collar is considered one that is 1-inch longer than the circumference of the dog’s neck.)
It also includes restraints that are too short (less than five times the length of the dog or 10 feet, whichever is greater; are in an unsafe condition; or that cause harm to the animal.
Subchapter D (Unlawful Restraint of a Dog) of Chapter 821, specifically sections 821.076, 821.077 and 821.078, can be read in their entirety online at http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/HS/htm/HS.821.htm .
Adams also issued a reminder last week of the importance of safeguarding pets during extreme heat. Don’t leave them in vehicles, where temperature can increase dramatically in a short period of time, and when leaving them outside, make sure they have access to shade and to food and water, she said.

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