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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Chaining or Tethering Animals

VOCAL works diligently to make a positive change in the lives of the many dogs living chained and isolated in backyards throughout our community.
What is meant by “chaining” or “tethering” dogs?

These terms refer to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner’s backyard, as a means of keeping the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.

Is there a problem with permanent chaining or tethering?

Yes, the practice is both inhumane and a threat to the safety of the confined dog and humans. Tragically, the victims of chained dog attacks are often unsupervised, curious children simply wanting to pet the dog.  A dog that has been chained for a long period of time may become territorial, leading to aggression.  He has developed severe behavior problems from long-term, intensive confinement. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded in a study that the dogs most likely to attack are male, un-neutered, unsocialized and chained. The book, Fatal Dog Attacks states that 25% of fatal attacks are inflicted by chained dogs of many breeds.

Why is chaining or tethering dogs inhumane?

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 addition to the psychological damage brought on by continuous chaining, dogs forced to live on a chain or tether make easy targets for other animals, humans, and biting insects such as mosquitos, which carry many deadly diseases.  Chained animals suffer harassment and teasing from insensitive humans, stinging bites from insects/fleas and often fall prey to both internal and external parasites from which they cannot escape.

Are tethered dogs otherwise treated well?

Rarely does a chained or tethered dog receive sufficient care.  Tethered dogs suffer from sporadic feedings, overturned water bowls, inadequate veterinary care and extreme temperatures.  During storms, these dogs often have no access to shelter.  During periods of extreme heat, they may not receive adequate water or protection from the sun.  What’s more, because their often neurotic behavior makes them difficult to approach, chained dogs are rarely given even minimal affection.  Tethered dogs may become “part of the scenery” and can be easily ignored by their owners.  Often these dogs suffer, unnoticed for years.

Are the areas in which tethered dogs are confined usually comfortable?

No, because the dogs have to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in a single confined area. Owners who chain their dogs are also less likely to clean the area. Although there may have once been grass in an area of confinement, it is usually so beaten down by the dog’s pacing that the ground consists of nothing but dirt or mud.

Out of sight, out of mind.  That seems to be the way many dog owners that chain their dogs treat them.  The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) explains, “Rarely does a chained or tethered dog receive sufficient care.”

But how else can people confine dogs?

The HSUS recommends that all dogs should live indoors especially at night, taken on regular walks and provided adequate attention, food, water and veterinary care. Dogs living outdoors part or all of the time should be provided with a safe, escape-proof enclosure with proper shelter, where they may express natural behaviors.

If they escape, will they will come back?

Would you come back if you were tied up outside all alone?  Exactly. The same mental and emotional pain that a human would experience by being chained up is the same pain a dog experiences. Like mentioned above, since chained dogs don’t often get the chance to socialize with people, they may not even know that they’re being called back when you try to call them to you. In many animal rescue cases, chained dogs who have run away don’t even know their own names and don’t know to come back when called.

Should chaining or tethering ever be allowed?

To become well-adjusted companion animals, dogs should interact regularly with people and other animals and should receive regular exercise. It is an owner’s responsibility to properly restrain their dog, just as it is the owner’s responsibility to provide adequate attention and socialization. Placing an animal on a restraint to get fresh air, while you are outside with them, can be acceptable if it is done for a short period. However, keeping an animal tethered for long periods is never acceptable.

What can I do to help chained/tethered dogs?

Find out if your community (city, county and even some states) has laws regulating tethering.  If not, consider working with community officials to create regulations in your local ordinance.

According to the Association of Shelter Veterinarian’s Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, “Tethering is an unacceptable method of confinement for any animal and has no place in humane sheltering.  Constant tethering of dogs in lieu of a primary enclosure is not a humane practice.”

Why should a community ban the permanent chaining or tethering of dogs?

Animal Control and humane agencies receive countless calls from citizens concerned about animals in these sad situations. Animal Control Officers, paid at taxpayer expense, spend many hours trying to educate pet owners about the dangers and cruelty involved in this practice.

A chained animal is caught in a vicious cycle; frustrated by long periods of boredom and social isolation, he becomes a neurotic shell of his former self—further deterring human interaction and kindness. In the end, the helpless dog can only suffer the frustration of watching the world go by in isolation—a cruel fate for what is by nature a highly social animal. Any city, county or state that bans this practice is a safer, more humane community.

(Sources-HSUS & Dogs Deserve Better)



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