First tracks

Early March snowfall is chest deep for Mansfield native Hondo, who, in this case, is out for a walk with his owner. But some pets are left outdoors in extreme conditions without adequate shelter or supplies.

Mansfield, Ohio – A former veterinary assistant and animal advocate, a representative from the Richland County Humane Society and the Richland County Dog Warden spoke at Mansfield City Council on Tuesday. The representatives support creating an anti-tethering ordinance to enforce the protection of animals left out in severe weather, both cold and hot.

“Dogs remain outside in the elements 24-hours a day, seven days a week,” said Linda Swisher of Mansfield. “Their only shelter is their dog house, which can consist of anything from a thin plastic hut carrier to plywood to a plastic barrel. They are chained or tethered to a nearby tree or stake.”

Missy Houghton from the Humane Society reported 113 complaints regarding animals out in the cold weather with inadequate shelter. There have been two confirmed deaths due to hypothermia and six unconfirmed because the owners removed the bodies before they arrived to investigate. “We removed 25 dogs and 10 cats due to neglectful conditions as a result of the cold weather,” said Houghton.

Richland County Dog Warden Dave Jordan also addressed council, explaining that the previous two ordinances in regards to animal neglect are outdated and fail to address the issue of tethered dogs.

Mansfield resident Angie Mayo spoke on behalf of the dogs she’s seen around her own neighborhood tied up without adequate food and water. “I bet if you fined these people, they would think twice about doing it again.”

Another resident, Linda Somers, brought photos of a dog she saw out her window every day in the yard of her neighbor. The dog was tied up, underweight and in severe stress and was never taken inside the house. “They fed him whenever they felt like it,” Somers said. The dog died in January and another one has taken its place.

Somers would like to see something done to stop people from this type of pet neglect. She then presented an example of an anti-tethering law currently being used in Youngstown.

Councilman Don Bryant said the reason this was being brought to council was because he was contacted by several citizens last week regarding anti-tethering. Bryant sees this as a safety issue.

Law Director Jon Spon promised those in council chambers that he would take a look at the old ordinances and see about either amending them or creating a new one. “I think our present law is deficient,” said Spon. “Hopefully we’ll be able to use the wisdom of city council to give this the proper direction.”

There were a few new faces at Tuesday’s meeting in recognition of March as Disabilities Awareness Month. Four young men took seats with council members. The young men are part of M.E. (Men’s Empowerment) through Richland Newhope.

Aurelio Diaz led the group and took them to different places each week. “Every Tuesday the fellas meet different male community leaders so they can network and be exposed to people they’ve never been exposed to,” said Diaz. They spent time with Mayor Theaker the first week, Scott Crislip of Snow Trails the second week, and Jay Allred of Richland Source for the third week.

This week they experienced what it was like to sit up with the council members and be part of a caucus and city council meeting.

Support Our Journalism

Our content is free and always will be - but we rely on your support to sustain it.

I'm a California native, but have lived in Oregon, Alaska, Wisconsin and the last four years in Ohio. I love the Midwest and all the wacky weather it brings!