Leading from the Left

Monday, February 26, 2007

Guest Post on Chaining Dogs

(NOTE: I asked Suzanne Roy, of Hillsborough, to prepare a guest post on the issue of tethering dogs. She and others have been educating me about this concern, specifically why chaining is bad for dogs and what some of the alternatives are. Suzanne's post is below.)

I was walking past the wood frame house when I first saw him. He was chained to a log, had been for years, his owner told me when I asked about this skeletal dog. He resembled a Shepherd. He was perhaps seven or eight, she did not know. I asked if I could take Henry for a walk. "Henry, he's just fine, " she said. For several months I fed Henry (who was actually a girl!) and her owner, an elderly woman with dementia.

Finally, the woman moved to a nursing home and I was able to unhook Henry’s chain-- it was virtually embedded in her fur. At first she seemed tentative, timid, and then suddenly she leapt up, gave me a wet kiss and took her first steps toward a far brighter future.

Henry is one of the lucky few. Free from her chain, she now lives with a kind man on his beautiful 12-acre property in Chapel Hill. Her eyes are bright, her coat is rich and shiny. Sadly many hundreds of dogs in our county continue to languish at the end of a chain.

Dogs are gregarious, social animals. Chaining dogs is cruel, and creates serious problems in our community:

* The American Veterinary Medical Association warns, "Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior." Chained dogs have killed and maimed children who innocently wander up to them.
* Chained dogs have no protection against predators. Restricted by their tether they are easy prey for other animals, including other dogs.
* Chained dogs are often associated with criminal activity: from dog fighting to drug rings; they often are used to guard drug houses.
* Chained dogs are frequently not vaccinated for rabies and other diseases, raising public health concerns.

'The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits chaining as the primary means of confinement under the federal Animal Welfare Act. Nearly 100 cities, counties and states in the U.S. ban or severely restrict the practice of chaining dogs.

The first meeting of Orange County’s Animal Tethering Committee is Tuesday night. I am hopeful that we can quickly move forward with an ordinance to ban or severely restrict the chaining of dogs as inhumane and dangerous to the public.