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Charlotte City Council Eyes Bullhook Ban For Circuses, Rejects Dog-Tethering Crackdown

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.
Nick de la Canal

Charlotte City Council on Monday decided not to pursue changing the city's dog-tethering regulations.

Council members voted 9-2 against the idea of placing new time limits or against banning the practice altogether. Council member Matt Newton urged his colleagues to ban or limit tethering. But council member Malcolm Graham said the restrictions would negatively impact low-income communities.

One reason some people tether their dogs, Graham said, is because they can’t afford to fence in their yard.

“I’m really concerned about the unintended consequences that the ordinance would bring to our community, especially for those living in inner-city communities that I represent,” Graham said. “I’m very concerned there has been no public hearing to hear from the other side.”

After Graham spoke against proposed new rules, some animal rights advocates watching the meeting booed.

Ten years ago, the city passed new rules on tethering. Among them: A dog’s tether must be at least 10 feet long and have a swivel on both ends. Newton and Dimple Ajmera were the two council members who voted in favor of new regulations.

Separately, council members voted 9-2 in favor of drafting an ordinance potentially banning bullhooks — metal hooks on long poles used to train and handle elephants — and any other instrument that causes, in their words, “inhumane” treatment to circus animals.

That proposal is scheduled to be discussed Feb. 24 at a public hearing.

The dissenting votes in the bullhook proposal came from Graham and James Mitchell.

Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.
Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.