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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Tethering A Dog Is Both Dangerous And Cruel

Why tethering a dog is both dangerous and cruel

John Tribley

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Pittsburgh Pet Rescue Examiner

Why tethering a dog is both dangerous and cruel

July 31, 7:20 PM


AP Photo Emily Rasinski A dog from a recent dog figting bust. Fighters often tie dogs to heavy chains in an attempt to make the dog stronger.

The role pets play in our lives is expanding. According to an associated press poll well over half of American pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family. While certainly some pets are reaping the rewards of this increase in status and often living lives far more luxurious than those of their predecessors, a startling number of American dogs are subjected daily to abuse and neglect through a lack of interaction and social starvation. While such neglect can come in a variety of forms; from being kept in a small room to being locked in a basement, the most recognizable and widespread form of neglect is tethering.

Tethering or chaining involves restricting a dog’s mobility by tying or otherwise securing them to a stationary object such as a tree, car, stake or wall, usually outside. Once secured, the dog is left for an extended length of time or sometimes never released at all. The sight of a dog kept tied out in such a manner is so common in our society that the harmful effects such practices have on the dog are often overlooked.

The cruelty of tethering manifests itself upon the dog in the form of both physical and mental anguish. Dogs by nature are highly social creatures and require interaction with humans and animals to live happy, normal lives. Social creatures that are deprived of interaction for long periods of time undergo terrible amounts of stress, anxiety, fear, and depression, often leading to a complete mental breakdown. It has been nearly 100 years since prisons phased out their solitary confinement programs after documenting the negative effects such isolation had on inmates. Yet many pet owners subject their dogs to the same treatment without any consideration for the animal’s mental health.

On a physical level, tethered dogs often sustain serious injuries from the tether itself. Ropes and chains can easily become tangled and choke the dog to death. Even a lightweight rope dragging at the dog’s collar for long periods of time will eventually cause the collar to rub away the dog’s fur, leaving the skin of the neck raw and irritated. Sores can break open along the dog’s neck, and because the dog spends most of it’s time tied out, it is unlikely that the problem will be noticed or treated properly. Worse still, many owners will tether their dogs on choke collars or by using heavy logging chains, wires, or whatever is close at hand. Dogs are found everyday with chains, ropes and cords embedded deeply into their throats. Such objects can easily cut through the arteries in a dog’s neck causing it to bleed to death. Even normal collars, if not occasionally inspected and adjusted will embed into the dog’s neck as they grow.

A common misconception among dog owners is that keeping a dog chained up provides more security for the dog or keeps dogs from attacking. In fact, just the opposite is true. Dogs that are kept chained outside are at much greater risk of being attacked both by other animals and by humans. Chained dogs are more likely to be taunted, stolen, shot or poisoned. On top of this, tethered dogs are at greater risk for disease and infection because they are forced to eat, sleep and defecate all in the same area. Dogs tethered outside also suffer from greater exposure to heartworms and other parasites.

Exposure to external threats without the ability to run away, coupled with a lack of socialization and interaction often leads tethered dogs to become aggressive and territorial. According to the center for disease control and prevention, tethered dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite. And Karen Delise, director of research for the National Canine Research Council, reports that in a study of fatal dog attacks ranging from 1965-2001, 25% of fatalities were caused by chained or tethered dogs. Sadly, many of these attacks involve children who are only trying to show some affection to a dog that desperately needs it.

As heartbreaking as seeing a dog chained outside day after day is, the majority of people who are willing to call their local shelter or animal control to report the neglect are often told that there is nothing that can be done. As public awareness of the damaged caused by tethering spreads, a small number of communities have passed laws making it illegal to leave a dog chained for long periods of time, but for most parts of the U.S. an owner can lawfully tether their dog alone for any length of time they want. As long as the dog has occasional food and even the crudest form of shelter, there is rarely any action that can be taken to help the animal.

The only way to stop this abusive practice is through public education and community involvement. By organizing together with an objective to eliminate tethering, pet owners can have the power to change local policies. The Humane Society of the United States provides a free guide for concerned pet owners to follow on how to go about pursuing anti-tethering legislation. Hopefully we will someday see a society where the image of a dog left tied in a yard is a cause for public outcry. Until then, it is up to us as individuals to make owners aware of the dangers of tethering their animals.

To find out more about why tethering is wrong and how you can help visit:

The Humane Society of the United States

Animalsheltering.org

Unchainyourdog.org

Dogsdeservebetter.org

Why tethering a dog is both dangerous and cruel

Green And Groovy Old Vegetarian Hippy

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