01 February 2015
By Joanna Dunn Samson, Vice President of FOTAS
An emaciated black lab mix chained to a stake lies in the mud – a dirty, dry water bowl overturned out of reach. A small female pit bull trembles on a tether attached to a dilapidated shed with a chain so short she can barely get out. Two dogs chained to stakes on a 97°day in a yard with no trees or shelters for shade and no access to water pant uncontrollably in a futile attempt to cool down. A mixed terrier breed staggers under the weight of a heavy chain wrapped and locked around her neck, which is scabbed and raw from jawbone to chest. These dogs are chained to stationary objects 24/7 with no relief, no exercise and no company.
Twenty-one states across the country have enacted some form of anti-tethering or anti-chaining laws for dogs (South Carolina is not one of them). Although the details of these laws vary from state to state, they share the same basic prohibition: it is unlawful to tie or chain a dog to a stationary object except for brief periods of time. The chain must be sufficiently long to allow the dog to move freely, and the dog must have free access to shelter and water.
It’s a miserable existence, attached to a chain every second of every day for your entire life. 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 and no opportunity to run and play becomes mentally unstable from loneliness and anxiety and physically impaired from lack of exercise. Sometimes that instability expresses itself in a dull, lifeless, dispirited dog; sometimes the instability expresses itself in aggression.
Plus, a dog can easily choke to death if its tether gets tangled in debris or if the dog attempts to escape. I am haunted by the horrific photographs of dead dogs hanging by their necks over a fence or railing.
Yes, chaining a dog to a fixed object all the time is cruel, yet most of the people who chain their dogs are good folks who simply lack the resources, ability or information to make a different choice for their dog. In many cases that’s all they’ve ever known.
Here’s some good news: FOTAS and the SPCA Albrecht Center are collaborating on an exciting new community initiative called Fences4Fido, through which we will build humane fencing for selected Aiken County families in need that currently contain their dogs through tethering and/or chaining or allow their dogs to roam at large. Through this initiative, we hope to educate the public regarding the dangers of chaining and tethering, the need to create a safe, secure space for their dogs, and the joy of making their dogs a real member of the family. Our first fence build is scheduled for February 28, 2015.
Please join us in this effort. Do you or someone you know in the community need a fence? Call us at the FOTAS hotline – (803) 514-4313.
Donate funds to build the fence through Crowdrise CLICK HERE
Volunteer and help us build the fence, or loan us your fence-building equipment, like a post-hole digger, for the day. Call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever you decide to do, please don’t wait. Their lives are in our hands.
BY THE NUMBERS
In 2013 & 2014, FOTAS organized & paid for 935 spay/neuter surgeries
PETS OF THE WEEK
BELINDA Female, American bulldog, 5.5 months old, 21 lbs $70
BENTLEY Male, tabby, 8 months old, 7.8 lbs $35