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October 29, 2007

Break the Chain

We can never relent in our efforts to make people more aware. Even people who love animals often do not know what the best course of action is when it comes to proper care of animals.

My own childhood experience is a poignant and personal reminder of this principle. Ever since I can remember, I loved animals and hated the idea of them being harmed. Yet, in one area of proper care, my own behavior didn't measure up. I didn't know any better. I was ignorant, and so was everybody else in my household.

I shared so much of my childhood with my late, beloved Brandy, a Labrador and golden retriever mix. She was a fantastic and loving and loyal girl.

When she wasn't in the house, she was chained in our backyard. Often for hours every day, and often overnight. Often in the summer and in the winter.

Yellow chained dog in doghouse
© iStockphoto

Our behavior was wrong. Now I know better. Tethering dogs for long periods is just not humane.

In the wild, wolves live in packs; through domestication, dogs have been bred to form strong attachments to their human families. When dogs are left outdoors on a chain they can become lonely, bored and anxious. Just as they need food, water and shelter, dogs also need our companionship.

The human-animal bond is damaged when we leave our canine friends outdoors to suffer through sweltering summers and frigid winters. In certain areas, chained dogs are at risk of being stolen by dogfighters or others who might cause them harm. They may be taunted by children, or even strangled on a tangled chain.

The Humane Society of the United States is committed to policies that set a standard—and that discourage or prohibit long-term tethering. Legislation to ban or restrict the practice of chaining is gaining momentum at both the state and local levels, all across the country. So far, Texas, Maryland and Tennessee have passed new tethering laws and bills in several other states are still being considered.

If you would like to take action to help chained dogs in your community, The HSUS is now offering a free kit to help you pass such local legislation. More than 100 communities in over 30 states have chaining ordinances and, with our kit, yours can be next.

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