Steven Brown spent 32 years ridding Whitehall’s streets of a few bad men. Now he is looking out for a few of man’s best friends.
Brown, Whitehall’s animal-control officer, hopes a new city law prohibiting overnight tethering of unattended dogs that becomes effective later this month is followed by others.
“It’s a terrible life,” Brown said of the dogs he’s seen left tied up outdoors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Brown retired in 2014 from the Whitehall Division of Police. He accepted the position of animal control officer in January 2017.
“Some dogs are left on leashes 6 to 10 feet long and that is their existence,” Brown said.
In some instances, dogs pose a public nuisance because of frequent barking.
But Brown sees a bigger problem: a potential for injury if the animal escapes.
These dogs, he said, are likely to have limited interaction with humans or other dogs, and that lack of socialization means greater potential to act aggressively if they get loose.
The Whitehall City Council on Tuesday, March 6, unanimously adopted a change that prohibits tethering from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Mayor Kim Maggard said she signed the legislation Wednesday. It’s set to go into effect March 27.
The prohibition mirrors Bexley's, the only other central Ohio suburb that has an overnight prohibition, Brown said.
Violation is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $250 fine and 30 days in jail.
Whitehall’s new law also includes a provision that prohibits the tethering of a dog during extreme heat or cold. Laws in Bexley and Columbus also include provisions for extreme weather.
Whitehall already had legislation on the books that addressed tethering of dogs for extended periods of time, but it was unenforceable, Brown said.
The city’s previous law said: “No dog shall be chained or tethered for more than 12 consecutive hours in a 24-hour period.”
“But it wasn’t enforceable because I can’t monitor (a property) 12 straight hours,” Brown said.
Following models in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati that prohibit tethering between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., Brown asked Zach Woodruff, Whitehall’s director of public service, to present legislation to the City Council to amend city code.
Brown said the new law should help him deal with dog owners who have not responded to warnings or citations.
Councilman Chris Rodriguez said the new law provides for “more humane treatment of pets” and the provision regarding extreme weather should “eliminate some of the conditions we see where pets are overwhelmed.”
No residents spoke about the legislation during the three separate meetings at which it was considered, Council President Jim Graham said. Reaction on social media has been positive, he said.