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City Council votes to fine owners who tether dogs too long

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amny Photo Credit: RJ Mickelson/amNY

Pet owners who tie up their pooches for more than three hours outdoors will land in the doghouse – or even the big house.

The City Council voted yesterday to ban the practice of leashing pets for long periods, which members called “cruel and unusual.”

“Chaining a dog and leaving it for hours is fair neither to the dog nor the people who must walk past it,” said Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who sponsored the bill and has been gathering support for it since 2007. “This type of abuse can turn the nicest pet into an attack dog.”

The legislation, which is awaiting Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s signature, also prohibits tethers that are too heavy, likely to become entangled because of their design or are considered “choke” or “pinch” collars.

Owners slapped with a first offense will get a warning. A second violation will cost up to $250 and subsequent offenses would draw up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.

The bill passed 47-1, with Councilman Charles Barron (D-East New York) voting against it.

“I don’t know that it will make a difference,” Barron said after the council meeting. “Threatening people with (a fine) is just a way to go after people who are penniless.”

Barron also opposed a second animal-related bill that was passed yesterday to increases the licensing fee for dogs that are not spayed or neutered from $11.50 to $34. The additional income will subsidize animal population control programs.

ASPCA President Ed Sayres lauded both measures. The council “has taken a major step forward today in protecting the well-being of the city’s dogs,” he said.

Enforcing the law will require police and animal control groups mostly to investigate complaints by citizens.

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