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Portsmouth council votes to ban unattended tethering

“There is nothing good or natural about being trapped at the end of a chain for a dog.” 

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- It is now illegal to tie up your dog and leave the animal outside unattended in Portsmouth. City council changed the ordinance this week—prohibiting tethering unless someone is outside with the animal and within 35 feet.

The old ordinance allowed dogs to be tethered for up to three hours in a day, but dog advocate Daphna Nachminovitch said that made it difficult for police to enforce.

“When there is a limit rather than an all-out ban, officials have a difficult time enforcing that, and that's because either they need to sit and watch that an animal is tethered for a certain period of time, or they have to count on a complainant to be willing to testify in court, and that's very difficult to achieve,” Nachminovitch said.

Nachminovitch is the Senior Vice President of the Cruelty Investigations Department for PETA. She began pushing for a ban in March when a neighbor reported concerns about tethered dogs at a home on Chestnut St. Nachminovitch said PETA went to investigate and followed up multiple times.

“We found there was a number of dogs who were tethered 24/7 with inadequate shelter in poor conditions. We actually discussed the situation with the owners on multiple occasions and we just weren’t able to get anywhere with education,” she said.

That’s when Nachminovitch took her fight to city leaders. She wrote a letter to the mayor and council members calling for a complete ban.

“It became evident that animal control was having a very hard time enforcing the ordinance, and their hands were tied,” she said.

In a 5-1 vote Tuesday, council agreed to change the law.

“There is nothing good or natural about being trapped at the end of a chain for a dog,” Nachminovitch said.

Norfolk, Hampton, and Suffolk currently have bans on tethering. Chesapeake and Newport News have one-hour limits and Virginia Beach has a three-hour limit.

Nachminovitch said her next target is Newport News and she hopes city leaders cooperate.

“We are very, very dedicated to seeing Newport News move forward and do the right thing,” she said.

If you violate the new law in Portsmouth, that's a class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine.

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