Imagine being chained outside twenty-four hours a day to a stationary post. If you’re lucky, you have some stale food and dirty water and the odds of having adequate shelter and proper veterinary care are slim to none. Instead of being inside in a warm, comfortable home cuddling your humans, you are stuck to the same spot day after day to brave the elements.
Sadly, this is life for countless chained or “backyard” dogs all across the country. Perhaps the dog escaped one too many times from the house and the owner thought tethering them outside was the best solution, or perhaps the dog has accidents, or maybe the owners simply don’t want the dog in the house. Whatever the case may be, there are hundreds of dogs left unattended to the point they become isolated, lonely and sometimes even aggressive, becoming a danger to the public.
For many animal lovers, when we see a chained dog in their neighborhood, we want to do something to help. And in some situations, it could mean life or death for the dog if no one steps in to help. Many chained dogs die every winter because they are unable to protect themselves from the frigid temperatures. Similarly, summertime can be deadly for chained dogs in extreme heat, especially if they don’t have proper shelter and clean water.
Seeing a chained dog is heartbreaking, but being prepared helps. Many cities have laws regarding chained dogs (you can check yours here), which is important to know before getting involved in a situation. But remember, it’s important to always speak up but please be prepared so you don’t put yourself (or others) in dangers!
You may not be able to physically go onto the property, but you could stand on the sidewalk to document abuse. Gathering the details in as much detail is crucial. Take note of the dog’s apparent health, the dog’s approximate age, breed, size, as well as the location of the dog on the property. Record dates, times, any specific details. Any photos or videos can also be helpful. But it’s important to remember not to put yourself in danger. NEVER enter someone else’s property without their permission.
Try to Talk to the Owner
Knock on the door and politely express your concerns about the dog. Suggest that they bring the dog inside and try to troubleshoot any issues with them. For instance, if they are worried the dog is going to bark, suggest putting the dog in a closed room where at least he will be warm.
If the owner refuses, offer help by providing food, water, and shelter for the dog. Many local animal shelters will provide FREE dog homes. All you have to do is ask! Offering straw bedding for the inside of the doghouse is also an easy way to make sure the dog at least has some comfort. Make sure the owner is okay with it at first, but you could also offer to take the dog for a walk.
Call Local Authorities
If you aren’t getting anywhere after speaking with the owner, the next step is to call your local animal control. Animal control agencies are required to investigate if a report of alleged animal cruelty is made, according to the Humane Society of the United States. One Green Planet also has the largest database of local hotlines to help rescue abandoned, injured, stranded, sick, and lost animals in need.
Provide all of the documented information you have on the dog. Note if they have food, water, shelter and the temperature that day. If the dog is in immediate danger (if they are emaciated or very obviously ill, for instance), CALL animal control as soon as possible! If you’re not sure what constitutes animal abuse, check this out.
Always Speak Up
If chaining dogs in your city is still legal, urge your local and state representatives to ban chaining. For information on how to get an ordinance passed, check out the Humane Society of the United State’s tips. Having laws in place to prevent dogs from being chained is the most effective way to put an end to this cruel practice!
Without voices to speak up for themselves or proper laws (and enforcement of the laws that do exist) to shield them from neglect or physical abuse, it is up to us to step in and do all we can to end the violence. This involves speaking out and raising awareness for animals who are the victims of abuse and also even working help get laws changed or improved on a state or national level.
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Lead Image Source: Pavel Starikov/Flickr