St. Helens police: Oregon's dog tethering law difficult to enforce

St. Helens police: Oregon's dog tethering law difficult to enforce »Play Video
A woman was concerned that her neighbor was breaking Oregon law and had Roxy, shown here, tethered for hours longer than the five-hour limit.

ST. HELENS, Ore. -- Sherry Milneck noticed right away what she felt like were troubling conditions for her neighbor's husky mix, Roxy.
Milneck said Roxy was tethered for hours longer than the law's five-hour time limit. She believes Roxy's owner broke the law a second time when she said Roxy's leash got caught around a tree.

"My concerns grew on July 4th when fireworks went off throughout the evening -- the dog wrapped himself around the tree and he became caught to where he could barely move his head, and he howled and howled and howled in pain and fear and fright for hours," Milneck said.

Milneck wasn't the only one concerned. Another neighbor snapped pictures, which she said showed Roxy was stuck in the fence as he longed for attention as well as looking mangy.

St. Helens police received a complaint and officers went to the dog owner's house Friday.

"We talk to the complainant, talk to the dog owner -- see if there are any issues," St. Helens police Chief Terry Moss said.

Officers snapped photos of the covered patio and what they described as fresh food and water. Police also said they measured the dog's tether and said it was 10 feet longer than the minimum 15 feet.
Police did not issue a citation.

"This case is much more difficult because all those pieces were in place - the food, shelter, water," Moss said. "The issue was the time. Was the dog outside the tether more than five hours? The homeowner -- the dog owner -- says no."

The On Your Side Investigators talked to the dog's owner off camera. He admitted he's gone for 10 hours a day on the job but said he didn't know the law before Friday. 

However, the chief admitted enforcing the tether law can be tough.

"I understand the intent of the law; I understand why the law was created but it's difficult," Moss said. "Short of going back and checking and double checking -- which sometimes can be difficult for us when we're short-staffed on the list of things to do ...  -- we don't have five hours or 10 hours to spend on a case like this."

Moss said 14 officers work for the St. Helens Police Department. He said they don't deal with these types of cases very often.

He also said the St. Helens animal control officer position was cut last year.