Pets are often regarded as members of the family; however, recent trends in tethering pets on campus have demonstrated that they are not often treated as such. While leaving a child tied to a bike rack outside a public building for hours at a time is unheard of and would spark fierce outrage from bystanders, leaving a dog in a similar position is not. Both are unlawful actions in Bozeman.
Many students are dog owners and feel compelled to bring their four-legged companions to campus, which is great. The university can often be a stressful environment and pets can be a stress-reducing resource. As long as dog owners are operating within legal boundaries MSU welcomes student pets. As pet policies and laws vary from university to university, it can be difficult to determine what is and is not allowed on our campus.
There are several regulations associated with owning an animal within Bozeman city limits. Likewise, there are many rules regarding pets on campus. MSU policy is concordant with the ordinances of Bozeman. Campus policy states that no dogs other than service dogs are permitted within any facility, so owners bringing non-service dogs to campus are left with few options in caring for their animals.
A just action would be leaving the pet at home. Full-time students whose schedules do not allow leaving a dog at home may find that owning a dog is not the right option for their situations. A frequent alternative to doing the right thing and leaving non-service dogs at home or in proper care is tethering them outside of buildings. Though a Bozeman city ordinance restricts owners from leaving dogs unattended in a public location, dog owners continue to disregard the law.
There are several risks associated with illegally leaving a dog tethered outside a classroom and not one is worth bringing a dog to school. When an owner tethers their dog outside while they attend class, they are leaving their pet subject to any number of hazards, including poor weather, theft and physical abuse. A dog may also become anxious during their temporary abandonment and react aggressively toward the crowds of strangers by which it is surrounded. While it is understandable that an anxious and frightened dog may bite a stranger, the dog would be deemed a vicious animal by the City of Bozeman and be subject to impoundment or even destruction at the owner’s expense. This is a steep price to pay to go to lectures accompanied by a dog.
Besides the legal concerns, there are moral issues to consider when tying up dogs. Dog tethering can be an act of cruelty. Most dogs tied up on campus are waiting for their owners to return after one, two or even three-hour long courses. These dogs are often left without food or water. In addition to a lack of life-sustaining necessities, a lack of supervision leaves a tethered dog susceptible to entanglement. Dogs that are frequently tied up for hours at a time are also prone to psychological damage. Tethering is more harmful to a dog than it could ever be beneficial. Not only is leaving a dog tied up alone outside a public building illegal, it is just plain wrong.