Citizens speak against proposed changes to dog tethering rules in Casper - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Citizens speak against proposed changes to dog tethering rules in Casper


CASPER, Wyo. — A group of citizens attended the Casper City Council’s Tuesday, July 21 meeting to speak against proposed changes to the city’s animal care and control ordinance as they pertain to tethering dogs.

The same group of citizens said they are working with the city and outside organizations in hopes of creating a trap, spay or neuter and release program to deal with feral cat populations. They also oppose the proposed ban on feeding feral cats in Casper.

Linda Terrell spoke on behalf of the group and said that they oppose changes to the tethering rules as they think some protections for dogs under the current ordinance would be removed.

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Casper’s current animal care and control addresses tethering in the following manner.

No person shall tether a dog while the dog is outdoors, or within any structure that is not the dog owner’s home, except when all of the following conditions are met:

1. The dog is in visual range of a responsible party.

2. The tether is connected to the dog by a well fitted, buckle-type collar or a body harness made of nylon or leather, not less than one-inch in width.

3. The dog is tethered in such a manner as to prevent injury, strangulation, or entanglement.

4. The tether shall confine the dog to the owner’s property.

5. The dog has access to water, shelter, and dry ground.

6. The dog is at least six months of age. Puppies shall not be tethered.

7. No dog shall be tethered for more than two hours in any twenty-four-hour period.

The proposed changes would allow dogs to be tethered for up to 10 hours in a 24 hour period. It would remove the requirement that dogs be within “visual range of a responsible party.”

The proposed ordinance as drafted would also remove the provision that puppies cannot be tethered. It would not specify that a “well fitted, buckle-type collar or a body harness made of nylon or leather, not less than one-inch in width” must be provided for a dog when a tether is in use.

While access to food, water and shelter would not be mentioned in the tethering section of the proposed ordinances, these protections would be in place in other parts of the ordinance and would apply in tethering situations.

The provisions which would be included in the proposed ordinance are as follows:

  • animals could not be tethered for over 10 hours in a 24 hour period
  • lines must be 3 times the animal’s body length or 8 feet long (whichever is longer)
  • tethers must not pose a risk to the animal’s safety
  • lines must not weigh more than a quarter of the animal’s body weight
  • tether must be strong enough to restrain the animal

Terrell said that removing some of the specific protections in the current ordinance could be detrimental to the safety of dogs. She cited information from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) about the dangers posed by tethering.

“Dogs are naturally social beings who need interaction with humans and/or other animals,” the HSUS says. “Intensive confinement or long-term restraint can severely damage their physical and psychological well-being.”

“An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained or intensively confined in any way, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.”

Councilman Ken Bates raised some points which Metro animal protection officers communicated to the council during their July 14 work session. He said that for some people, the time limits on tethering under the current rules were not practical for people with jobs.

Bates noted that he has dogs himself and that he felt lucky that he was able to provide his pets with a sizable dog run allowing them to move around while he and his wife are at work. But he said not everyone has the luxury of that space and that tethering may be their only option.

The group of citizens who oppose the proposed tethering rules said that they didn’t think Bates was lucky but rather that he is a responsible pet owner. They argued that people who have to tether their dogs for long hours while they are at work perhaps shouldn’t have gotten those pets.

They said that the Casper Humane Society requires that people have fenced in yards before they allow people to adopt dogs.

“I’d rather see tethering taken away entirely,” Terrell said. “It is supposed to be in the best interest of the animal and the changes you are proposing are not. I just believe very strongly tethering dogs for that long of time is detrimental.”

Councilman Mike Huber said that if the proposed ordinance changes would indeed remove some of the protections the group described, he’d like to see those in detail. He asked that city staff present the changes in a way that show the current tethering rules side by side with the proposed new tethering rules.

The council voted in favor of the proposed animal care and control ordinance on first reading. Councilman Shawn Johnson voted against the ordinance because he opposes the ban on feeding feral cats. Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz was not in attendance Tuesday.

Tethering and the proposed feeding ban are just some of the changes proposed under the ordinance. Changes can be summarized as follows:

  • prohibits feeding or sheltering non-domestic animals
    • would be illegal to shelter, feed or enticing non-domestic animal onto public areas or private property (excluding use of live box traps)
    • includes feral cats, dogs and wild turkeys
    • exception for birds and squirrels
  • changes to tethering rules:
    • animals could not be tethered for over 10 hours in a 24 hour period
    • lines must be 3 times the animal’s body length or 8 feet long (whichever is longer)
    • tethers must not pose a risk to the animal’s safety
    • lines must not weigh more than a quarter of the animal’s body weight
    • tether must be strong enough to restrain the animal
  • requiring clean pet environments
    • “premises are free of feces and urine as to not cause offensive odors or unsanitary conditions” in an enclosure, yard or surrounding area
    • pet environment must be kept cleans so that it does not draw flies or insects which could cause illness or injury to an animal
    • environment must be free of physical hazards to the animal like broken or sharp objects
  • prohibiting tormenting or harassing confined/restrained animals
    • ban yelling in a harassing manner at animals
    • ban throwing objects at animals
    • ban making gestures or other behavior to elicit reactions or cause stress to animals
  • protecting animals in motor vehicles
    • would be illegal to leave animal in motor vehicle over 70 degrees (current limit is 60 degrees) or below freezing
      • unless animal control officer deems there is sufficient water, ventilation, heat, air conditioning and bedding
  • proper shelter protections
    • requires access to water, proper shelter at all times
      • unless animal protection officer deems the species and breed capable of maintaining safe body temp
    • shelter, bedding must be kept “reasonably clean”
  • grooming requirements
    • animal must be “reasonably groomed” to prevent skin irritation, damage or infection and to prevent entanglement of hazardous foreign bodies
  • safe transportation of animals
    • would be illegal to transport animals on hood, fender, running board or other external parts of a moving vehicles (excludes truck beds with a closed tailgate)
  • provisions regarding animal attacks
    • attack would be defined as aggressive action against another person or animal
    • if the attack occurs as a response to aggressive or violent action from a person or other animal when a pet is not on its owners property, the proposed ordinance states that this should be considered a mitigating factor by the court

Other changes include new definitions. The term “dangerous” animal would be replaced by a definition for “aggressive” animal. Under the proposed ordinance, animals which are defined as either “vicious” or “aggressive” would be illegal to possess unless:

  • the animal is properly restrained while on an owner’s property
  • when off premises the animal would have to be caged or muzzled and restrained by a secure collar and leash not longer than 3 feet

Pets which exhibit dangerous behavior could be defined as either “aggressive” or “vicious”:

  • an aggressive animal would be any animal not on an owner’s property that
    • “has attacked a domestic animal or livestock in such a manner that resulted in physical contact between the animals not necessarily requiring medical treatment to either animal” or
    • that has “chased, approached or otherwise interacted with a human being, domestic animal or livestock in an intimidating or aggressive manner”
  • a vicious animal would be any animal:
    • that has attacked a human causing injury or death
    • which is in a place it is “not legally entitled to” and attacks a domestic animal or livestock causing injury which results in visits to a veterinarian or which causes death
    • which has previously been declared an “aggressive” animal and engages in “aggressive” behavior

Further details of the proposed ordinance changes are included in the council’s work packet.

If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:

Mayor Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601

If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.