An ordinance is now in effect in Wichita Falls, which bans the all day chaining or tethering of dogs in yards. City councilors passed it six months ago and it took effect on Saturday.
Before Wichita Falls city leaders passed the dog ordinance, they decided to create Chain Off, a group to help financially strapped dog owners comply with the ordinance. The group generated money through fundraisers and purchased materials to build and repair fences for qualifying dog owners.
City health officials pushed to modify the ordinance, saying it is unhealthy for animals to remain chained all day long instead of freely roaming in an enclosed area. And city councilors agreed.
On March 19th they passed the ordinance, which only allows the chaining of dogs when someone is holding the chain or when the owner is outdoors within 50 feet of the animal.
Again, that ordinance took effect this Saturday and to date, Chain Off officials say they've received 51 applications, volunteers have brought 13 fences into compliance with the ordinance and eight applications have been approved and are now awaiting dates for completion.
These figures are small compared to estimated 11,0000 chained dogs Wichita Falls health officials say are in the city limits, but animal control officials don't expect to be swamped citations violators.
"We hope that with the six month leeway the city council provided for the citizens that a lot of people did take the step forward and went ahead and fixed their fence or made other arrangements for their pets so they don't have to be chained," says Katrana Mitchell, administrator with Wichita Falls Animal Services Center.
Mitchell says over the past few months, animal control officers have been going door to door informing owners, who chain their dogs, about the ordinance. And now that it is in effect, Mitchell says anyone cited will have 10 days to get into compliance before they face a fine of up to $425.
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