I may have to become a scofflaw.

Fernandina Beach, a very dog friendly place, is about to pass a “tethering ordinance” that I will violate, until forced to comply.

I “own or am owned by” two dogs, a Bouvier des Flandres (Poppy) and a Black Russian Terrier (Konna), who are sometime tethered when I walk them downtown, by myself.  Both are frequently seen downtown, at the dog park and at the many dog friendly restaurants.  Konna has his AKC Canine Good Citizen Title, does monthly visits to Council on Ageing, and has a blog (konnabrt.blogspot.com) with over 4,500 page views, while Poppy is an AKC Bench Show Champion (CCH Obvious Smart Alec).

If the proposed tethering ordinance (bit.ly/2qABI2q) is enacted we will be in violation.  When I am walking them downtown alone (happen infrequently) and either; go into 4th St. Deli or Amelia Tavern to order food to go or eat outside, go into the coffee shop for a cup of coffee to go, the ice cream shop for a cone, which is shared with them, or make a trip into the comfort station.  We will be in violation of:

  • Sec. 18-4, f, (1) A dog or cat may be tethered when it is in visual range of the owner, and the owner is located outside with the tethered animal.
    • I am sometimes out of visual range (walls) and I am not outside with the tethered animal.  PS, the human, unobstructed, visual range is 3.1 miles (bit.ly/1akqeAf).
  • Sec. 18-4, g, (2) The tether has the following properties: it is at least five times the length of the tethered animal’s body, as measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail; it terminates at both ends with a swivel; it does not weigh more than 10% of the tethered animal’s weight, and it is free of tangles;
    • Both are large dogs, 85-lbs, with body lengths in excess of 30-in.  Our standard walking lead is 5-ft vice 12.5-ft (150-in) and only has a swivel at the collar end.  I use a carabiner to secure the lead around a post or other fixed object at the various locations.
  • Sec. 18-4, g, (4) If there are multiple dogs or cats, each dog or cat must be tethered separately. The tethering of each dog or cat must be in accordance with the requirements of this Code;
    • Konna & Poppy are tethered to the same object.  They are in either sit or down stay, which they usually obey.  I frequently get comments from passersby, who have stopped to admire them, on how well behaved they are.  I sometimes have to step out to reinforce the command.
  • Sec. 18-4, g, (6) The dog or cat has access to water, adequate shelter, and dry ground;
    • They have neither water nor shelter while tethered.  Thanks to the many merchants downtown they have access to water as we do our walk.
  • Sec. 18-4, g, (9) … No animal shall be tethered so that it has access to public property, including easements and rights-of-way or property owned by another private individual or entity.
    • We are always either on public or property owned by another private individual or entity.

Note: the last of our violations would also cover any dog, tethered with its owners on the beach, under a cabana, with water, while the owners take a quick dip in the ocean.

Unless the commission see fit to add an exception to cover my situation and the owner on the beach, I guess, I will be in violation, I hope I get a sympathetic judge to hear my appeal.  This is a case where I will be a scofflaw, until forced to comply.

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