West York Borough has added its name to a small but growing list of York County municipalities to ban the permanent tethering of dogs outside.
It took less than 30 seconds Monday for the borough council to introduce the legislation and unanimously pass it.
But that vote had been years in the making.
In early 2012, the York County SPCA sent out packets to every municipality in York County, asking them to consider adopting a tethering-restriction ordinance. Enclosed in each packet was a proposed ordinance crafted by the SPCA and the Humane Society of the United States.
Since then, West York officials once voted the ordinance down and once approved it. That approval was later vetoed by a former mayor, however.
The ordinance West York approved Monday limits tethering to "a reasonable period of time" and requires owners to provide clean water and shelter or shade within the tethered area.
After the vote, Councilwoman Shelley Metzler, who is also the borough's animal enforcement officer, said she felt "on top of the world."
"No animal deserves to be stuck outside for hours on end," she said. "They're social animals. They need to be with their families."
The newly approved law also prohibits owners from keeping their dogs outside -- tethered or not -- when a severe weather warning has been issued for York County by the National Weather Service. When the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees, owners are not allowed to leave their dogs outside for more than 30 minutes at a time.
The SPCA's humane officer will enforce the law at no cost to the municipality. Dog owners who violate the law would first receive a warning, then could be cited and fined.
The officer may also temporarily remove a dog from a property and take it to the SPCA if the tethering situation is not fixed within 24 hours. An owner can retrieve his or her dog from the SPCA "upon an adequate showing to the confiscating party that his or her tethering situation has been brought into compliance" with the ordinance.
Council President Brian Wilson said he believes the state should pass a tethering-restriction law, rather than leave it to local governments.
"This is an absolute must," Wilson said. "To protect those silent ones that don't have a voice."
Metzler said enforcement of the new law will be primarily complaint-driven. While West York does not have a serious dog-tethering problem, Metzler said, she's happy to have some recourse to help dogs when such situations arise.
"It gives you a little bit of teeth to help the animal," she said.
-- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.