Update: New animal control ordinances passed in Martinsville

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) UPDATED STORY

Martinsville City Council has finalized animal control ordinance amendments involving weather conditions in which dogs can be tied outdoors, as well as how long they can be tied.

People will not be able to tether pets when temperatures are either 32 degrees or below, or 90 degrees or above.

It also will be illegal to tether an animal to any fixed point outside of a structure from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

It's also illegal to tether the animal if it could become injured, strangled or entangled on obstacles such as trees or fences. Animals four months old or younger, sick, or injured also cannot be tethered.

Another change involves how many dogs can be on a premises. The change states that any household can have six dogs on the premises, if the dogs are in a building from 10:00 at night until 7:00 in the morning and that building is at least 50 feet from another residence. If those conditions can't be met, a household can only have four dogs.

The first ordinance violation will be a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $250. Further violations will be Class 3 misdemeanors, punishable by fines up to $500.

ORIGINAL STORY

Martinsville leaders are looking to change the city's animal control ordinance, after seeing an increased number of animal cruelty cases involving tethered dogs.

The animal control officer in Martinsville says the majority of the cases he deals with involve dogs that are chained up and forgotten about for hours, and sometimes days on end.

He says, right now, the city's tethering ordinance is difficult to enforce.
It states that a dog cannot be chained to a fixed point for more than four hours a day.

Animal control wants a change that would prevent dogs from being chained up between 10:00 at night and 7:00 in the morning.

The city's animal control officer says 90% of his cruelty cases involve dogs that are chained up.

"Basically people will put their dogs in the backyard, chain them up, feed and water them, and a lot of people to be honest, they forget them," says Martinsville Animal Control Officer, E.C. Stone.

Many of his cases have dogs chained up with no food, water, or adequate shade and shelter.

"It's a statewide law. If the dog is outside, they have to have water available at all times and shelter, and the shelter cannot allow air to pass through it," says Stone.

According to Stone, when dogs are chained up they are more likely to be aggressive and suffer major health issues.

"Parasites, fleas, ticks, living in their own filth. A lot of these dogs are emaciated due to worms," says Stone.

When Stone recovers animals, they end up at the Martinsville animal shelter. Some sit there until a trial is complete, while others are put up for adoption.

Stone says a change in the city's ordinance would benefit all animals.

"We want people to be more responsible pet owners. We see more and more of dogs just being chained and forgotten," he says.

Other ordinance changes include temperatures in which dogs can be left tethered outside. Right now, dogs can't be left tethered outside if it's below 32 degrees or above 85 degrees. Animal control is proposing to change that to 25 degrees and 95 degrees.

Another change involves how many dogs can be on a premises. The change states that any household can have six dogs on the premises, if the dogs are in a building from 10:00 at night until 7:00 in the morning and that building is at least 50 feet from another residence. If those conditions can't be met, a household can only have four dogs.

Martinsville City Council will hear the first reading of these proposed changes at their meeting Tuesday night.