Animals in the Town of Essex can only be tethered for 4 hours following council vote

Town of Essex councillors voted on Monday in favour of limiting the total number of hours an animal can be tethered from 10 hours to four hours. 

Councillors voted five to three in favour of limiting animal tethering even further.

The motion itself was put forward for Essex residents who were concerned about animal welfare and safety. 

Town of Essex Mayor Larry Snively supported the motion, saying "there's no reason to tether an animal like that."

"Tethering, to me, it's cruel to the animal," he said. "I think that that could change the behaviour of the animal. And that's why I voted in favour of four hours."

Snively said Town of Essex council had received similar requests in the past from residents hoping to further limit animal tethering.

"I'm glad that council voted in favour of the four-hour limit on tethering, and I think that was the right move be council," said Snively. "And I think the general public will agree with that."

'An infringement' on farmers' rights, say deputy mayor

Despite Snively's support for the motion, not all voting council members were in favour.

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said he opposed the motion and continues to oppose the additional tethering time limit, because he felt the new rule unfairly affects farmers and other rural residents.

Additionally, Meloche said the new rule would make it difficult for Town of Essex residents who work far away from home to own a dog. 

I don't like to see a dog tethered 24/7. - Richard Meloche, Deputy Mayor, Town of Essex

"I have farmers who have asked me to try and keep the bylaw to 10 hours," he said. "They felt that was fair to have 10 hours. But … we're probably mostly an urban setting here and it's unfortunate for the farmers."

Meloche said he questioned how law enforcement would go about regulating the new four-hour tethering time limit in the first place.

"A report would come from a neighbour or something that a dog is being abused," he said. "And then you'd probably see either a humane society of the Town of Essex dogcatcher review the matter to see whether that's truly happening or not."

Despite his opposition to the four-hour limit, Meloche was clear that "we need to treat our animals [humanely]."

"I don't like to see a dog tethered 24/7," he said. "I wish the province would actually step forward and put something in place."

Meloche described animal tethering rules across Ontario as a "hot mess."

"I think there's three other communities in the county of Essex that have four hours," he said. "There's one that has 10-hour tethering. Lakeshore is limited, they don't have anything right now. But again, it's really, I think, an infringement on the farmers' rights."

Kingsville, Windsor, Tecumseh, Leamington and Amherstburg all boast four-hour tethering bylaws.

As per Town of Essex bylaws, animals can only be tethered on a "rope, chain, cord or similar restraining" if the tether is long enough for the species; provides unrestricted movement within the tether's range; ensures that the animal has access to water, food and shelter while tethered; and if the animal can't hurt itself while tethered.