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    Joe Bunk gets ready to set free his Vizsla at a field trial. Some restrictive dog tethering laws would greatly impact the sport of field trialing. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS

Published August 02. 2019 10:44PM

For several years a battle has been waging in Connecticut regarding the use of Flaherty Field Trial Grounds. The grounds are surrounded by nice homes. When a field trial is held on the grounds, the residents of those nice homes hear a lot of dogs barking as well as the noise of blank guns (like starter pistols). And they complain and want it to stop.

It’s a lot like when folks buy a home in the country and then complain about neighboring farm activity, planting, harvesting, spraying for weeds and especially, spreading manure.

The attacks against dog sports have been sneaky, couched in publicity from totally unrelated abuse cases involving dogs. For example, Connecticut passed a law that if a dog is tied, it’s tether must be at least six feet long. Most people who field trial dogs use what’s called a “stake-out” which is a post, pounded into the ground, topped with a swivel head with an attached tether, no longer than 2 feet long. The dog can move freely in a radius around the post without the risk of getting tangled up and injured, as would happen with a six-foot tether. People who have multiple dogs use the stake outs to tether dogs for feeding and/or potty breaks.

Sometimes these laws are passed with good intentions; sometimes these laws are backed by groups which have an anti-hunting agenda. So, you’re thinking, what does a fight between dog sports and local residents in Connecticut have to do with me? Well, everything. The anti-hunters are attacking the sport from every imaginable angle.

What can you do? You don’t have the time or resources to work against such legislation or get someone to sponsor legislation. You aren’t aware of the far-reaching scope of the national attack against hunting, and the many forms it takes.

Here’s what you can do – join a group that will handle that for you.

For nearly 40 years, the Sportsmen’s Alliance has fought to protect and advance our outdoor heritage of hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting in all 50 state legislatures, in the courts, in Congress and at the ballot box. As Sportsmen’s Alliance’s work continues to grow stronger so too has the animal rights movement. One of the Alliance’s earliest victories was creating hunter harassment legislative language, which has been implemented in all 50 states to protect sportsmen, while in the field, from anti-hunters.

I’ve witnessed hunter harassment and been a victim of it. While I was on a hunt on public land, an anti-hunter took a seat under my tree stand and proceeded to repeatedly blow a bicycle horn. At a hunt test for pointing dogs in Allentown, New Jersey, a neighbor to the preserve threw pieces of broken glass from his property to the fence row of the preserve, where dogs might cut up their pads. In the New Jersey case, police were called, and the neighbor was charged and fined.

The Alliance also created the Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund, which is used to defend sportsmen’s rights in our courts. Looking just at laws involving sporting dogs, the Alliance and Legal Defense Fun have monitored and worked on more than 350 bills. It took eight years, but the Alliance fought the Humane Society of the United States and won, ensuring hunting access on 100 million acres of the National Wildlife Refuge system.

For more information on the Sportsmen’s Alliance and its various programs, go to www.sportsmensalliance.org. There are various types of memberships, and also plenty of information about happenings in Pennsylvania and other states across the country.

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