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Education will break chains (Staunton, VA)

November 29th, 2006, 10:07 AM

Education will break chains, hope dog lovers
City leaders pledge to help publicize effort
By David Royer/staff

STAUNTON A grass-roots effort to unchain city dogs is moving ahead, though supporters will now focus on education instead of enforcement.

Earlier this month, a group of dog lovers asked City Council to study an ordinance that would prohibit dog owners from tying up their pets for more than 10 hours a day. Supporters say permanently chained dogs often end up neglected, angry and dangerous.


City leaders decided to put the new law on hold for now, because Staunton has only one animal control officer to enforce the law, and many well-meaning owners might not have the money to fence in their yards, City Manager Jim Halasz said.

But city leaders encouraged the group to begin an educational campaign against chaining, and pledged time on the city's cable access channel and other measures to help publicize the effort.

"It just seems like that's the first step, to work with pet owners," Halasz said.

Supporters said they haven't given up on their petition for a city ordinance. More than 500 people have signed on in support of the law, and the city could still set up a study committee, Amy Hammer said.

In the meantime, the group will print pamphlets this week training pet owners on proper animal care. The information will be passed out at the SPCA animal shelter, in public buildings and by the animal control officer, Ria McGuffin said.

The group also is collecting donations that will provide straw to keep outdoor dogs warm and help build fences for two families with dogs.

McGuffin acknowledged some negative feedback at her group's proposal but said most people have been supportive.

"For the most part, people are really glad this is beginning in our city," she said.