Life after Chains

Skye, Queenie, King and Polo: what do these dogs have in common? They are all pit-crosses. They were skinny and dirty, their coats scruffy. None had been spayed or neutered. The females were bred indiscriminately; how many times is anyone’s guess. Three of them tested positive for heartworms.

Volunteer Judy Kolb spends quality time with Queenie.

All four dogs were chained to stationary objects in a bare dirt yard, 24/7, with no relief from the elements. Their movements are clumsy and unsteady because they could only move so far on their short chains. All of the dogs were starved for human attention.

It’s a miserable existence, attached to a chain every second of every day for your entire life, pacing through your own waste. Dogs are social animals. They thrive in a pack, whether it be a pack of humans or a pack of dogs or a combination of both. A tethered dog with limited contact to people or other animals suffers from loneliness. They are often frustrated by their inability to interact with the other dogs just outside their reach. That isolation expresses itself in a dull, lifeless, dispirited dog; sometimes it results in intolerance to other dogs.

Tethered dogs are often uncoordinated or become physically impaired because, without an opportunity to run and play, their muscles never develop.

Polo, now available for adoption, was one of the neglected dogs rescued and brought to the County Shelter.

Sadly, many tethered dogs die on their chains—choked or trapped by the tangled teether and unable to reach shelter or water, if it’s even available.

Skye, Queenie, King and Polo have been rescued by Aiken County Animal Control. At the shelter, they are receiving, perhaps for the first time in their short lives, medical treatment, two meals a day, toys, treats, and a clean and protected place to sleep.

They are also getting lots of human attention. They love that. Their tails wag and their eyes shine every time staff and volunteers offer a kind word, a walk, a snuggle and a hug, a lap to lay their head on. We love that, too.

Skye gets some love from FOTAS Volunteer Karen Loughran before going on a walk with Volunteer Sharon Johnson.

Dr. Levy has released Skye, Queenie and Polo for adoption; King will be available once he gains a little weight. FOTAS will pay for heartworm treatments for those that need it. We work with them every day on their canine socialization skills. We can say without equivocation that these dogs are incredibly grateful and affectionate, capable of loving and being loved by humans.

Yes, chaining a dog to a fixed object all their life without access to shelter, clean water, medical treatment, and companionship (both human and canine) is cruel, yet most of the people who chain their dogs are not cruel. Maybe they lack resources, maybe it’s all they’ve ever known. There’s help for those folks — FOTAS provides animal control officers with humane runners and swivel/stakes to help them take their dogs off the chains.

For the others—the cruel and grossly negligent—that’s a matter for the animal control officers. It is illegal in Aiken County to tether dogs to stationary objects with chains all the time, but animal control can only save those animals if they know about it, so speak up! (County Animal Control: (803) 642-1537) Cruelty tips from the public can be kept confidential.

Help us take those dogs off the chains. Their lives are in our hands.

— By Joanna Dunn Samson, Vice President of FOTAS