Arlington, TX has a new rule regarding tethering your dog: don't. Citing a study (though I can find no direct link to said study) which claims that tethered dogs are much more violent than non-tethered dogs, the Arlington City Council approved an ordinance which prohibits tethering your dog (that is: tying it to tree, or a post, or whatever) unless you "maintain physical control" of the animal.
At the linked article, a sob story is given of a woman who went up to a strange dog to pet it and was attacked.
Let's take this apart, shall we? First, the sob story: who goes up to a strange dog? I was taught not to do that when I was a child. It's pretty well common sense. People sometimes train their dogs to be aggressive. Other dogs are aggressive despite training. If the owner isn't around, and you don't know the dog, you don't approach it. It's that simple. That's why people call animal control when they see a dog just wandering around. Part of it is for the dog's safety, but it's mostly so the dog doesn't attack and maul some child or elderly person. I'm sorry, you don't get to be mad that a strange dog reacted to you, a stranger, in the way that dogs react to strangers.
Now, for the ordinance: it's stupid. It is, once again, the government providing a too-big solution for a largely imaginary problem. We already have rules on the books against letting your dog bite people. We don't need another one. Additionally, sometimes dog owners need to tie up their dogs. Sometimes for extended periods.
Case in point: for a while, one of my dogs (I still have him) had a very bad habit of escaping his pen (we had a shared yard), and then the yard itself. The pen was one of those 10x10 chain-link enclosures. It wasn't an optimal place to keep him, but a) it was temporary, and b) I didn't have much other choice. Except, once he started escaping, that didn't work either. So, when I had to leave him outside, I had to tether him. And, yes, he was territorial (most male dogs are), and, yes, he growled at people he didn't know who approached the house. Color me stunned.
Having a law that says we couldn't do that would not have helped the situation. We didn't have another viable option, at the time, so basically an ordinance like that would have been an extra tax: we wouldn't have had much option beyond just paying the fines.
Now, I'm not saying that everyone who leaves their dogs tethered in their yard is in the same situation. I am saying that, unless the dog escapes and attacks you, it's not your business. If the dog does escape and attack you, the laws already reflect the fact that I'm liable for that. Depending on the severity of the attack, or if it has happened more than once, I may even be criminally liable.
Certainly a lot of do-good reasons can be given for this law. The cited study is one such. Preventing animal cruelty is another. Once again, however, I have to point out- we already have laws on the books about what happens when your dog hurts someone. We also already have laws on the books against treating your dog cruelly. So what purpose does this law serve?
Well, it doesn't serve the purported purpose- that purpose was already being served adequately. Remember, the case used to show the importance of the law was a woman walking up to a strange dog and being attacked. The dog hadn't escaped. It didn't approach the woman. She approached the dog. No, the only purpose the ordinance actually serves is to further criminalize the populace. If you happen to have a case where tethering your dog for a time would be the optimal solution, you now either have to be a criminal or you have to choose a sub-optimal solution.
However much the Arlington City Council says so, this is not about protecting the public. It is not about protecting dogs. It is about controlling the public and making a criminal offense out of what was previously perfectly legal behavior.
And the Police State continues to grow.