The act of tethering or chaining a dog is described as the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner’s backyard, as a means of keeping the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.
Though it is not illegal in all states, it is frowned upon by the mass majority and is a considerable sub-category of neglect and abuse.
There are many reasons that confining a dog to a small space is both dangerous and a threat to the animal’s health and safety.
Here are some situations that may arise if a dog is chained up:
- Since dogs naturally thrive on interaction, whether with other animals or with humans, to leave a dog alone for extended periods of time can severely damage the dog physiologically. A normally happy dog soon becomes unhappy, anxious, and most times vicious or aggressive.
- Chains or ropes are often too heavy for a dog’s neck. Even without pulling, the dog’s neck will start to become irritated, scratched, bruised, or severely cut over time. Considering most dog’s won’t just stay in the exact same spot for hours on end, the process is quickened, leaving an animal now with a neck wound that is easily infected if not treated.
- As mentioned previously, it is very unlikely that a dog will stay still for hours or days. If the dog sees something it wants to get close to – another animal, a human – or even smells something it wants, the dog is going to attempt to get it. This can lead to the animal getting tangled in its chains. This can cause obvious physical damage, but can also prevent the dog from now reaching its food or water bowl, if left with one.
- By giving the dog only a small space to stay, you leave them no room to do their business. Now they are eating and sleeping in the same place they went to the bathroom. This of course is extremely unhealthy for any animal.
- Studies have been conducted proving that a high percentage of dog attacks were by dogs who were previously chained or tethered. Keeping a dog confined for such an immense period crazes the animal and causes it to become wild. People who dog fight typically chain their dogs up before bringing them to the “ring” to fight because it causes severe aggression and desire to destroy.
- If a dog is in the same spot for extended periods of time, other animals will start to notice. If you have a female dog chained up, you better believe a loose, un-neutered, male dog is going to take advantage of that. If she’s not spayed, now you have a pregnant dog chained in the yard not getting the nutrition it needs for herself or for her pups.
These are just a few examples of why tethering and chaining can be a problem. If you know that a dog is in one of these situations, and it seems as though the situation isn’t completely critical, here are some things you can do before going to extremes:
- To avoid conflict and getting involved with the police, always talk to the owner first. It could be a misunderstanding, maybe the owner doesn’t realize the dangers of it. Explain to them the dangers and that it is something they can get in trouble for by law. (This usually kicks them into gear and gets the dog inside.)
- If you cannot reach the owner, whether they are not home or just not opening the door, leave them a note signed “concerned neighbor.”
- If they do answer, after explaining your concerns, politely ask the owner to take the dog in.
- If they do not agree, ask if you can walk or play with the dog on a regular basis. (Do this with caution, as you may not know how long the dog has been out there and don’t know the temperament of the animal.) If they do let you, and see how happy the dog can be just by interacting with strangers, they are more likely to interact with the dog themselves.
- If they do not authorize you to be around the animal, they’re leaving you no choice but to report them. Now is the time to call your local Public Safety Department or local police. Don’t make a big scene of it. Calmly leave their property and call the authorities once you’ve returned home.
If before approaching the owner, you realize the situation is already critical – the animal is hurt, bleeding, having trouble breathing, is emaciated, etc – immediately contact the authorities. In those cases, it may be a matter of life or death, and you may not have the time to waste to try and talk sense into the owner. And most likely, if the owner was enough of an idiot to let that happen to the dog in the first place, you probably don’t want him or her to be taking the dog into their home anyway. Call the authorities and insist that the dog be removed from the home and brought to medical care.
As I mentioned earlier, (believe it or not) tethering or chaining is NOT illegal in all states. Though it is not considered illegal, in almost all states the effects of tethering and chaining -neck wounds, emaciation, etc) are considered acts of animal abuse, which is illegal in majority of the US.
For more information on this issue, be sure to visit unchainyourdog.org. This site will help you understand more signs, and more ways to help put an end to this. You can also see if your state is one of the few states with strict laws prohibiting tethering or chaining. And if it’s not, it can show you what you need to do to put that law into motion.
No dog chooses to be tied up, left alone, or ignored. Help put an end to neglect and speak up. We are their voice, and nothing will ever get better if we stay silent.