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Prevent Animal Cruelty: Help a Neglected, Chained Dog

by Katherine Noyes
The Challenge

When you help a neglected, chained dog, you take a stand against animal cruelty. You also speak up for the rights of an animal who can't speak for himself.

Chaining or tethering an outside dog for extended periods of time is one of the most common forms of animal cruelty. In the worst cases, the chained dog is doomed to live his whole life alone in the same, small area around his tether. Weeks, months and years go by, but the dog sees only the same, hopeless scene day after day — usually without adequate food, water, shelter or care.

Dogs are pack animals and thus highly sociable creatures, so it would be difficult to invent a crueler form of canine punishment. They crave nothing more than the attention and love of their family. When they are denied that again and again, they become not only lonely, but often aggressive. In fact, cases in which dogs fatally attack humans frequently involve chained dogs; sadly, the victims are often neighborhood children.

Chaining and tethering can be physically dangerous for dogs too. An ill-fitting collar can injure the dog's neck and throat; there have even been cases of dogs whose collars became embedded in their necks after years of being chained. Dogs chained near a fence, meanwhile, can hang themselves if they try to jump over it in desperation. Health problems are frequent in chained dogs as a result of extreme weather, insects, and attacks from other animals. Chained dogs are also often the victims of teasing and sometimes even theft or abuse by strangers. Finally, other animals suffer from chaining as well when the dogs' increased aggression leads them to attack cats and wildlife.

Chaining a dog outside for extended periods of time has been declared inhumane not just by the The Humane Society, PETA, Dogs Deserve Better and numerous other humane organizations, but also by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many communities have passed anti-cruelty laws that restrict or eliminate the practice. Nevertheless, there are still countless neglected, chained dogs out there who have no one but caring humans like you to be their voice.

So if there's a dog in your neighborhood who is frequently chained and seems neglected, find a safe way to help. The success stories are inspiring. Just one dog freed from this life of despair is a victory in the battle against animal cruelty everywhere.

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  • If you have a dog, don't chain him up! There are many more humane ways to restrain dogs while they spend time outside; the best involve your company. Tips and suggestions for unchaining your dog are available from The Humane Society, UnchainYourDog.org, and Dogs Deserve Better.
  • If you see a dog in your neighborhood who is frequently chained outside or who looks to be deprived of adequate food, water, shelter or veterinary care, contact your local animal care and control organization or search for an animal shelter in your area (Animal Shelter.org). Animal care officials will know the animal cruelty laws in your area, but even if none are being broken, they can often intervene and help the animal in other ways. Once you've reported the situation, don't be afraid to follow up; you may well be the dog's last hope.
  • If you're still concerned about an outside or neglected dog, talking to the dog's owner can sometimes help reveal an underlying situation that has resulted in the neglect. For tips and advice on talking to an owner about a neglected dog, visit UnchainYourDog.org, PETA, or Dogs Deserve Better, which also offers assistance via handout letters, funding help and step-by-step advice. Even if you can't remove the dog from the situation completely, you may be able to help him in other ways, such as by helping his owner install a fence, for example, thereby eliminating the need for a chain, or by getting permission to take him for a walk once a day. Such seemingly small acts of kindness could make a world of difference in the dog's life.
  • Volunteer to educate people about dog chaining or even become a leader in the effort to get dogs off chains in your area.
  • If you've been thinking of adopting a dog, consider adopting a rescued chained dog. It will require some extra work and patience on your part, but the reward — turning a life of misery into a life of joy and love — will probably be one of the most gratifying experiences of your life.

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