Break These Chains

Stick your arm straight out in front of you.  What’s that, about two feet?  That’s how long a chain Kaylee was padlocked to when she was found.  Her entire existence consisted of small circle, no bigger than four feet across, with nothing but a rotting dog house to shelter her from the blazing Nashville sun, beating rain and relentless insects.  She did everything in this tiny space – slept, ate (when she was fed), went to the bathroom, paced…and waited.

Kaylee waited every day for the first seven months of her life for someone to come and save her from the hell she was living in.  When Kaylee’s “owner” surrendered her to Dogs Deserve Better the Middle Tennessee Pet Resource Center, she was utterly defeated.  At only seven months old, she had no life in her beautiful honey colored eyes.  She was filthy and covered in bug bites.  She had never felt the warm touch of a loving hand.  She had never gotten the chance to run, never had her ears scratched or belly rubbed, never played with a toy.

She didn’t even have a name.

Keeping a dog on a chain, or “tethering,” is a widely accepted practice in some parts of the country.  In the South, it is especially prevalent.  There are plenty of reasons why tethering a dog is a bad idea.  Here are three:

It’s cruel…all you have to do is look through these pictures – or maybe out your own window – and look into the sad eyes of a dog on a chain. As pack animals, dogs are social creatures.  They long for the companionship of their pack, their family.  Since dogs have been domesticated, their “People” have become their “Pack.” Over hundreds and hundreds of years, the desire to please their pack leader (that’s you, by the way) has been bred into them, so that it is now among their most basic instincts – to please their master.  Being separated from their master, being able to see them through the window but not be with them, is torture.

It’s dangerous…A dog that’s lived its life on a chain hasn’t been socialized, and don’t know what their Pack wants from them.  They bark, they get yelled at to shut up.  They whine, they get ignored.  With no clue how to behave, they turn to destructive or neurotic behavior, like obsessive chewing, barking, scratching, or pacing.  They have such a small “territory” to call their own, that they can become extremely territorial and aggressive to anything that gets too close to them. This could include a neighbor’s dog who got out of the house, or a child who wandered into the back yard.

It probably doesn’t have the desired effect…Ask people why they chain their dogs outside, and I’d bet you a years supply of dog treats that 99 out of 100 people would say “for protection.”  Um, OK….these dogs are chained.  Meaning they can only chase an intruder as far as the end of their chain.  How is that going to stop someone breaking into your house?  Personally, I think that you’ve got a much better chance of your dog “protecting you” from an intruder if you bring him  into your home and show him unconditional love and compassion – just like he has for you already.  Kinda like this.

The pictures included in this post show a small sampling of dogs that live their entire lives on chains.  They have been documented by Dogs Deserve Better all around the Nashville area, in effort to help gather ammunition to request an anti-tethering ordinance be enacted in our county (for more information on this initiative, click here, or click here to sign the petition.)

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10 responses to “Break These Chains

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  9. Seeing a dog tethered makes me so sad. The vet who cared for Polly when she was first brought into the shelter told me about how he had to cut away a prong collar that had become embedded in her skin. He also told me that he believes she was tethered to a tree or stake or something because of the behaviors she exhibits. I am glad she is safe now, but it breaks my heart to think of what she went through. It is so important to help people to understand why tethering is a terrible idea!

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