The Wichita Falls City Council passed an ordinance at their regular Tuesday meeting to ban chaining dogs unless their owner is outside and in the presence of the animal. The ordinance has been more than 3 years coming and dozens of people showed up to voice their support.
Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham said, "I'm glad it's behind us. We'll see how it plays out, but I think it's an ordinance that will benefit the community."
Some residents also showed up to oppose the ordinance. One woman became emotional at the podium, saying no one had the right to tell her how to care for her dogs. She said she chains them up, but only because she has to, not because she doesn't care. The woman said, "It ain't cruelty, my dogs are happy and I love them, very much and they get the best care."
A member of P.E.T.S, the animal group behind the ordinance, assured the woman there would be help for her, but also stressed that scientific evidence shows dogs on chains are more violent.
Lou Kreidler with the Wichita Falls/Wichita County Public Health District proposed 2 possible ordinances to replace the current Animal Restraint law at the March 5th meeting. About a dozen animal lovers showed up to support a blanket ban on chaining animals.
Mayor Glenn Barham shared an interaction he'd had with one resident who said she likes to take her dog outside with her while she gardens, but has to tie him up while outside. Founder of P.E.T.S Wichita Falls Leslie Harrelson said that's just fine, "I'm one of those that will take my dog out and tie it to a tree as I'm doing some gardening. The dogs enjoy being outside, but I can't trust him not to run into the road, so, I'm ok with that."
Most ordinances go into effect within 30 days, but Kreidler said this one would have up to 180 days; allowing for time to set up a non-profit to help fund fences for people who want to keep their pets, unchained, in their yards.
Harrelson and P.E.T.S will head the non-profit and have already raised more the $7000. The ordinance will require them to offer services to at least 3 people per month.
On March 5th councilors also heard a proposal from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Fisheries Management Supervisor Tom Lang asked Councilors if the TPWD could stock a small pond behind Academy Sporting Goods with large mouth bass for recreational fishing.
Lang said, "We're in the business of providing fishing opportunities and helping make anglers. This is a great way for us to be able to do that for the public and were very happy that a pond that was sitting there, being a retention pond and serving its purpose as a retention pond, could actually be something even more than that."
City leaders never had to vote on the proposal, as it won't cost the city any money.
During the drought the pond has retained water and the city is already mowing the surrounding grass. Assistant City Manager Kevin Hugman said, "[The Parks and Wildlife Department] has met with staff, we don't really see any issues with what they're proposing and they were also very much aware of our concerns with it turning into a maintenance project for us."
The city would not add any water, and if the level ever got too low the TPWD would be responsible for collecting the bass and relocating them to another body of water.
Lang said their plan is to stock the pond with medium-large size bass from an over-populated creek in Jacksboro. He said, "We want a lot of medium-sized bass so we can have a lot of people be able to go and catch fish and have a good time." Fisherman would be able to keep anything over 14 inches. The TPWD is planning a grand opening this Friday at 10 a.m.