Unchained Heart

Being a resident of rural Tennessee, I must admit that one of my “pet peeves” is the fact that many people here let their dogs roam free. While outside enjoying play time with my dogs, Gavin and Annie, nothing irks me more than having to keep them from running off because a pack of dogs just came bounding through the yard. My Aussie, Gavin with me since he was a pup, can be controlled off-leash, in just about any situation. Annie, my Katrina rescue, is a different story altogether; but we’re working on it. Despite the fact that these “free-range” dogs bother me, what bothers me even more are their polar opposites– dogs forced to live their lives at the end of a chain.

You can find them everywhere you go– in the city where space is at a premium, and in the country where there is room aplenty. Dogs tethered to chains, ropes, and wires, a brown circle of hard packed dirt ascribing the total scope of their existence; all chance to interact with anything meaningful just out of reach.

If you think about it, making a dog live life at the end of a chain, meets the definition of physical and mental torture. Physical confinement, lack of exercise, as well as sores, difficulty breathing, and choking, are all part of these back yard victims’ misery. Mentally, the simple truth is that dogs are social animals and it is their nature to live with their pack mates. It’s hard to imagine a punishment as cruel as having the thing you want most in life deliberately placed just out of your reach. I imagine it’s quite like being locked in solitary confinement, except that in solitary they don’t dangle videos of your home and family in front of you!

To be fair, I don’t think that all people who chain their dogs do it out of malice, nor are they unconcerned with the animals welfare. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball that may make us forget about those that are totally dependent on us.

So what do we do when we come across an animal in this situation? Our instincts may be to “take” the dog away from this situation and provide a better life for them. And while that may seem like the prudent and humane thing to do at the time, not only is it a felony, it’s just not a good long term solution. How would you would feel having “secretly removed” a dog from that situation, only to pass that property a week later and find a new puppy at the end of that chain?

Fortunately there are people out there who have taken up the cause of these dogs and provide excellent resources for helping you break these chains. Following is a list of some of them…

  • http://www.unchainyourdog.org/index.html This is an excellent site that provides good practical advice on how to help these dogs. It includes resources on talking with the owners of these dogs, on building fences, on building trolleys, and resources for getting laws passed in your local community.
  • http://www.dogsdeservebetter.com This is a very comprehensive website overflowing with information about helping these dogs including letters that you can send to your state or local representative, and hundreds of articles, stories, and poems.
  • http://www.helpinganimals.com Another very good site for animal advocacy.

In addition you can always get good information about the problem from these national organizations…

Dogs give so much to us, please take the opportunity to do something for them.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on this subject and any information you can provide to help the plight of these dogs is welcomed. Critcism is invited, and as long as it is done in a respectful manner, is welcomed.