Have a Heart…for Chained Dogs!

Why unchaining dogs is a serious matter.

February is National Unchain a Dog Month, a time for compassionate animal lovers to work together to stop the inhumane practice of chaining dogs. The United States Humane Society, the ASPCA, and veterinarians agree that chaining dogs is not only inhumane, but can be dangerous to the dog, its owner, and strangers. There are a few things you can do to resolve chained dog issues in your neighborhood.

First, it helps to understand why chaining dogs is a problem. Imagine being confined to a single small room all your life. You’d not only have to live and sleep in that area, but relieve yourself there as well. If you weren’t given food and water, you’d have no way to access it yourself. And if you became threatened by weather, fire, an attacker, or some other danger, you’d have no way to escape or defend yourself. Such is the life of a chained dog.

Dogs thrive on social interaction and regular exercise. When they’re chained, they’re deprived of both of these things, leading them to grow hostile and potentially dangerous. So what can you do to help a chained dog in your neighborhood?

The first thing you can do is attempt to have a conversation with the dog’s owner. It’s a possibility that the owner doesn’t know how cruel it is to chain a dog. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching them in person, you might begin by leaving a pamphlet in his or her mailbox. UnchainYourDog.org offers wonderful tips for opening a respectful, non-threatening conversation with the owner of the dog.

You can offer to help establish better living conditions for the animal, like building a fence so he can run free in the yard or donating a shelter for him to take refuge from the elements. You might even offer to take the dog for walks around the neighborhood or dog-sit for a few hours on the weekends. There’s a chance its owner is invalid, homebound or otherwise incapable of properly caring for the dog. You’d be surprised how many folks are open to taking your suggestions once they learn that you’re there to help, not harass them.

The next thing you can do is find out about the laws on chained dogs in your city, county and state. Check with your local animal control office or sheriff’s office to find out if there’s a law prohibiting chained dogs. If there is, that agency may be able to intervene. If there’s not, work to get one put in place by contacting your city council member, county commissioner or mayor. Your local Humane Society might have a protocol in place for responding to chained dogs, and may be able to adopt the dog out to a better home with the owner’s permission.

If you’re having trouble making progress with the dog’s owner, try your best to see that the animal at least has adequate food and water. You might bring by treats for the dog, or place a water bowl within reach of the animal, inside a tire so it doesn’t tip over.

For more ways to help chained dogs and resources to make changes to your local laws, visit UnchainYourDog.org.

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