In January 2010, this newspaper ran a letter to the editor from Michael Savino of Seminole, Fla., regarding a recent 10-day visit he and his wife enjoyed in Las Vegas. In his letter, he complimented the people here as “friendly and welcoming” then went on to write about the disturbing number of tethered dogs in town, with limited access to food and water and warmth during the cold winter nights.
“Many of the chained dogs that I saw barked and snarled menacingly at me and my dog when I passed during my walks,” Savino wrote.
“Dogs that are constantly chained up are prone to be meaner and tend to bite more. My heart went out to those animals that are clearly being neglected.”
Additionally, Savino sent an e-mail to Las Vegas council member Andrew Feldman, who took notice. Savino had mentioned — in his letter to the Optic as well as his correspondence with Feldman — that his Florida hometown had recently passed an ordinance outlawing the tethering of dogs in most circumstances. Feldman looked into the matter and ended up using that city’s anti-tethering ordinance to draw up something similar for Las Vegas.
Last week Feldman’s proposed ordinance for Las Vegas was presented, and the council chamber was packed. Some of the anti-tethering ordinance supporters had horror stories to tell about animal abuse they’ve witnessed in their own Las Vegas neighborhoods; others were quietly supportive. No one in attendance spoke against it.
The ordinance was passed, but it isn’t an instant fix. To allow time for dog owners to be educated on the new law, Feldman said, there will be a one-year delay for the ordinance to go into effect. We agree that there needs to be time for dog owners to come up with other ways of containing their canines — by building fences or trolleys that allow the dogs some latitude to run without escaping — and to educate the public as to the details of the new law.
A community’s focus on quality of life should also apply to animals, and in that regard the city of Las Vegas is about to become a better place to live. Not only will dogs in Las Vegas enjoy a better life, but citizens will feel better knowing that these pets are being better cared for.
The intent is obvious — no more cruel and unhealthy neglect — and this ordinance is a big step in the right direction. We commend Feldman and the council for stepping up and taking action. Mr. Savino will be happy to hear it.