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By John HollenhorstSALT LAKE CITY -- Keeping your pet tied up or chained for long periods of time is about to become illegal for some residents of Salt Lake County. A new ordinance won tentative approval Tuesday from the county council.
Advocates of the ordinance say they're trying to stop inhumane treatment of pets.
In view of the long, sometimes bitter, history between dogs and letter carriers, you might expect letter carrier Lonnie Bird to want dogs restrained on the end of a tether.
"No, I'd rather the dogs weren't chained up," Bird says.
He prefers a safe separation of dogs and letter carriers, with fences.
"As far as chaining them up like that, leaving them out there when it's bitter cold? Give them some shelter," Bird says.
That puts him on the same side of the issue as the Utah humane society.
"It's inhumane to chain up dogs for long periods of time; and people shouldn't own dogs if they're going to do that," says Gene Baierschmidt, director of the Humane Society of Utah.
KSL News found dogs tied up in Salt Lake and on YouTube. We have no idea how long they were tethered, but animal rights activists are campaigning to stop it from happening long term, especially in extreme weather.
"We encourage people to treat pets as members of the family," Baierschmidt says.
The ordinance winning tentative approval from the Salt Lake County Council does not ban tethering entirely. It would still allow dog owners to chain their dog when they go to work.
"You can tether a dog for up to 10 hours a day in a 24-hour period," Baierschmidt explains.
Advocates believe less chaining will keep dogs healthier, happier and easier to get along with for everyone, including letter carriers.
"Dogs that are chained up for long periods of time tend to be more aggressive and to bite more, and that's been proven," Baierschmidt says.
The county council heard no opposition whatsoever Tuesday and voted to approve the ordinance, but council members do have to finalize it in January.
Proponents are already talking about trying to get a similar ordinance in Salt Lake City.
The ordinance also covers extreme weather condition, as well as requirements for access to adequate shelter, food and water.
Currently, 100 municipalities in 30 states have enacted similar law.