Often I’ve written about chained dogs and the sad, lonely lives of neglect they face. Their 24/7/365 isolation often coupled with lack of shelter, food and water because they have been forgotten. Most recently I did Another Argument Against Chained Dogs.

I came across a column written about chained dogs that I want to share so that you can see more perspectives and arguments against chained dogs. Take the time to read it, it’s definitely worth your few minutes.

Prisoner for life

by Holly Downing

I saw a cartoon last week that really made me think. Two cats are sitting on a fence looking down at a miserable dog chained to a dog box. One cat is saying to the other, “Boy, I’m sure glad WE’RE not man’s BEST FRIEND!” We have all seen them – the forgotten, left out, unsocialized, lonely and miserable “outside dog.”

Here are some questions, answers and comments about dogs who are chained:

  • “Dogs who spend their lives on chains do not have adequate freedom of movement. They often exhibit psychological behaviors caused by stress. Stress is proven to be detrimental to an animal’s health. It is cruelty to keep an animal under these conditions,” – Jan Marks, chief of animal control, Prince Georges County, Md.
  • “Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude the continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dogs movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog’s shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog’s movement and potentially causing injury” – United States Department of Agriculture, Federal Register, July 2, 1997

Here is some information provided by the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance:

“We all love the animals we live with. But sometimes, without realizing it, we are not giving them the care they need to be happy and healthy. The most common situation is dogs left chained outside day and night. Can you imagine going through an entire day, chained in one place, with nobody to keep you company? The seconds would surely tick by slowly. For countless dogs, this is not just one day, but a lifetime spent alone, at the end of a chain.

Doesn’t my dog like being outside?

While most dogs certainly enjoy being outside to play or go for walks, being chained all day is not in the best interest of your dog. Dogs are social animals, naturally living in packs. In a domesticated setting, their human family replaces the pack. Being constantly chained and separated from their pack causes them to become timid, anxious, neurotic or hyperactive. In fact, dogs chained for years are known to grind their teeth down until their gums bleed.

Chained dogs, alone, with no mental stimulation or companionship, will bark incessantly as a desperate cry for attention. The lack of interaction and the vulnerability of being restrained, in many cases, creates vicious dogs – overly territorial and aggressive. Adults, children, or other animals who unknowingly wander into their area may be attacked. If the dog becomes loose, they are more prone to bite someone.

Nearly one-third of the fatal dog bites recorded in the United States are known to have been inflicted by chained dogs.

What if I take good care of my dog?

When dogs are kept chained outside all day the problems they experience often go unseen. A lack of constant interaction may allow medical problems to go unnoticed. Chains can tangle, leaving a dog trapped. Chains also knock over water bowls, leaving your dog with nothing to drink. If you are not there to notice these problems, they may go on for a long period of time.

Daily practices, such as feeding and giving water become easier to forget as the dog becomes “out of sight, out of mind.” Dogs restrained in one place often lack shelter from the elements. Many dogs have died from not having access to water or shade on hot days, or a warm shelter on cold days.

Isn’t the backyard a safe place for my dog?

By constantly trying to pull away, many dogs are injured or develop sores on their necks. Some have been known to actually hang themselves to death when trying to jump over a fence or other structure. (Note – Never leave a training (choke) collar on a dog after the training period is over – many dogs have choked when the collar caught on something).

If another animal enters the area, a chained dog will have no means of escape. Many chained dogs become pregnant by roaming males – and roaming females will search out chained males to mate, increasing the overpopulation.

Chained dogs may be the victims of cruel teasing and attacks by people passing by, and have rocks, sticks or other objects thrown at them. People who steal animals for experiments in laboratories see a chained dog as an easy target. They are also stolen to be used in organized dog fighting rings (or just to keep for a pet).

I clean up after my dog. Isn’t that enough?

The small areas in which chained dogs live every minute of their lives often become far from pleasant. Where there once was grass, the constant presence and movement of the dog beats the ground into a circle of dirt or mud.

Even if animal waste is regularly removed, the smell will remain in the area. Eating, sleeping, defecating and urinating in the same area is unhealthy. The smell draws flies and other insects, who will torment the dog.

After years of chaining, many dogs lose portions of their ears to fly bites. The unhealthy conditions also lead to internal parasites, which are difficult to control because the dog is in constant contact with it’s fecal matter.

I have to keep my dog outside because …

Perhaps your dog was put outside because of behavioral problems or not being house trained. This can be corrected with patience, perseverance and a little hard work. The library and Internet have all the training information you could need – or ask your veterinarian or hire a trainer.

If your dog is outside because nobody is home to go on walks, consider asking a trusted neighbor or friend to help, or hire a dog walker-or take the dog to doggie day care. If there are times you must have your dog outside, fencing the yard in will allow greater movement and freedom. Or using an overhead cable pulley system, available at most supply stores, will allow your dog more movement than chaining. A harness is recommended for your dogs safety and comfort. If you decide that you cannot provide the best living situation for your dog, consider adopting him into a suitable home.

Brian Kilcommons, official trainer for PBS series “The Gentle Doctor: Veterinary Medicine,” provides these last words.

“No dog should be kept tied outside for long periods. It’s no place for a social animal like a dog. Bored and lonely dogs bark, dig, whine, pace, and become aggressive when tied out because they are miserable and have nothing better to do. They are also at the mercy of other dogs children, or adults. Bring the dog into your home, train him and make him a member of your family or give him to someone who will. Animals are not toys to be picked up and put down at will. They are living, breathing beings who need your constant interaction to be happy, healthy and sane.”

No need to take just my word for the injustice of chained dogs, there’s plenty of others willing to speak up on this. If you are one of these people who thinks that a backyard or chain is ok for life, imagine if it were you! If you know someone who is still misguided, send this to them. Maybe they will understand. We need to help people to understand they neglect and cruelty a dog faces, every day, day after cruel and lonely day. You can make the difference!

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