It shouldn't happen to "man's best friend," but it does. Take a drive down many country roads and city streets, and you'll see them—dogs left to spend their entire lives in "solitary confinement," trapped at the end of a chain or in a small pen.
We can't think of a crueler punishment for these social pack animals who want—and deserve—companionship, scratches behind the ears, walks around the block, and the opportunity to curl up at their guardians' feet at night indoors.
Kept "out of sight, out of mind" in the back yard, chained dogs are often deprived of adequate food, water, and veterinary care—in addition to having their emotional and social needs completely ignored. Many are denied proper shelter and have nothing but an overturned trash bin or plastic barrel—or nothing at all—to shield them on freezing winter nights. Countless chained dogs have frozen to death during cold snaps or died of heatstroke on sweltering summer days.
Chained dogs are also totally vulnerable to other animals and cruel people, and many chained dogs have been stolen, set on fire, shot, stabbed, tortured, or poisoned by cruel passersby or neighbors who were annoyed by their barking.
Breaking the Chain :
What's Wrong With Tethering?
In addition to being deprived of socialization, tethered dogs are often the victims of abuse and neglect, suffering from sporadic feedings, empty water bowls, inadequate veterinary care and exposure to weather extremes. They are forced to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in the same confined area, which goes against their natural instincts. Tethered dogs also suffer neck injuries from collars that have become embedded into their skin—some even strangle to death when chains become entangled with other objects. Chained in place, they are also helpless to defend themselves against abusive people, stray dogs and wild animals who may invade their space. In addition, unaltered, chained female dogs are likely to attract strays, leading to unwanted litters.
What Are the Effects of Long-Term Tethering on Dogs?
Tethering for short time periods, using appropriate equipment, in an animal-friendly environment (access to water, shelter and toys, for example) is generally harmless. However, keeping a dog on a tether for the majority of the day often leads to negative behavior changes. Tethered dogs run a high risk of becoming “stir crazy” due to the inability to release their energy and socialize with others. With dogs, boredom often leads to frustration, which, in turn, often leads to aggression. An additional contributor to aggression is that, given only a small area in which to dwell, tethered dogs are known to become irrationally protective of that area because it is essentially their whole world. Studies have shown that chained or tethered dog is nearly three times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.
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Neglected Animals With No Escape
In addition to having their social needs ignored, many chained dogs are deprived of proper food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. These animals' miserable so-called lives have prompted anti-tethering legislation in some areas.
Call Authorities if a Dog's Life Is in Immediate Danger or if Chaining Is Illegal
Many counties and cities have laws addressing chained or penned dogs. See the list of such places or look up your local law at the library or on Municode.com. Even if your area doesn't have such a law, backyard dogs must have shelter, adequate food, and clean water, and they must be provided with veterinary care if they are sick or injured.
If a backyard dog is in imminent danger—for example, if the animal is very thin, is obviously ill or injured, or has no shelter or cannot access it—notify authorities immediately. Refer to our guide for more information about what to do if you spot cruelty to animals.
Law enforcement officials are unlikely to remove dogs from such situations unless their lives are truly in danger. Err on the side of safety, of course. But unless you're unwilling to work with the dog's guardians or you've already exhausted that option to no avail, don't call authorities for non-emergency backyard dog cases—the dog probably won't be removed from the situation, and the guardians will be less likely to allow you to visit or help the dog.
Imagine being chained to a tree year after year. You watch the door hoping someone will come play. No one ever does. You long to run, but you can only pace. You shiver in winter and pant in summer. Eventually, you stop barking. You have given up hope
Are you concerned about a chained dog in someone else’s yard? There are many things you can do to improve that dog’s life!
The first thing to do is get acquainted with the dog’s owners.
Dogs are naturally social beings who thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals. A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.
In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars and the dogs' constant yanking and straining to escape confinement. Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks, the result of years of neglect at the end of a chain.
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