Like many cities nationwide, Dallas has had a growing problem with stray animals. Specifically, South Dallas, which became a dumping ground for unwanted pets that are forced to fend for themselves if they haven't already been killed and dumped in the area. The city has made various efforts to educate South Dallas pet owners to reduce the number of wandering strays. When pet shelters have had to step in, they too have often become overwhelmed to the point where at least one investigation was conducted on a shelter for reported abuses, negligence, and poor conditions.

Debate over tethering ordinance

In most of these cases, where communities have had to come together to find a solution, there is always disagreement about what is acceptable when caring for pets and what isn't and in a recent meeting, tethering was not considered an acceptable solution for trying to prevent animals from wandering around. Specifically, tethering is what many pet owners do with domesticated animals when they use a rope or chain to tie them down outside for long periods of time. In South Dallas, tethering is a common sight.

CultureMap Dallas reported on an ordinance being proposed for the city as part of a series of updates to the local animal laws.

There was no unanimous decision on the ordinance which was approved by the Animal Advisory Commission on April 27. The article was written by a committee member who was not at that meeting when the ordinance was approved. But the ordinance, more specifically, is to make some exceptions to tethering animals which serves as an example of the kind of disagreement communities have for or against tethering, as many are demanding a total ban.

Being cautious about discriminating against low-income pet owners

Initially, an anti-tethering notice was enacted in 2008 which limits the practice to three hours which has been unenforceable as monitoring it would be problematic. The new tethering ordinance would add things that are more enforceable such as shelter, food, and water.

A petition is being circulated in the meantime, which means to force lawmakers to vote against tethering overall. The issues with that, however, is that it's said that it tends to single out lower-income pet owners and could be seen as discriminatory, another problem that requires its own solutions. As a side note, South Dallas has often been seen as a low-income part of town and it was sidelined for decades.

The CultureMap article provides some insight into the issue from the founder and director of the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, Amanda Arrington. She says that the tethering is more of a result of lower-income pet owners having no other option as a symptom of poverty and not because of neglect or abuse.

At the same time, they don't want the ordinance to turn into denying low-income people the ability to have pets, giving the appearance that owning pets are only for people of certain wealth. A decision on the ordinance was postponed during the May 22 meeting until August.