Monday, July 13, 2009

Take the chains off the dogs!

Left: Dogs Deserve Better founder Tamira Thayne is chained to a dog house for her second day in a row in Piazzo Bergamo in downtown Greenville, SC, as she demonstrates alongside another group, Pawsitive Effects, an organization that helps build fences for pets. She is demonstrating in the annual "Chain-Off"--which brings crucial attention to the danger of chaining dogs. Photo by Heidi Heilbrunn of the Greenville News.

Some of the participating folks are my customers, so I am very proud and pleased to report this demonstration! The event itself is seven years old, but this weekend marked the first year it has been held in Greenville.

Dog activists in Greenville send message about chaining dogs outside

By Paul Alongi • Staff Writer • July 13, 2009
Greenville News

Animal-rights advocates shed their chains Sunday after spending two straight days tethered to doghouses in one of downtown Greenville's most visible venues.

Their message was simple: “Don't chain your dog,” said Tamira Thayne, founder of Tipton, Pa.-based Dogs Deserve Better.

Advocates said that chaining dogs is legal in many areas but takes away their ability to run away, making them more likely to bite people.

At least two Upstate child deaths have been blamed on chained dogs since 2003.

Advocates said children are particularly at risk because they often don't recognize dogs' warning signs.

“When you realize you are no longer able to flee the scene, you're just always amped up for the fight,” Mikael Hardy said. “And dogs don't distinguish between a cat, a squirrel and a 2-year-old toddler.”

Being chained also is painful for the dog.

Some people buy a puppy, chain it and as it grows, the collar becomes embedded in its neck.

One alternative to chaining is to keep dogs inside fences, Hardy said.

Her Greenville-based group, Pawsitive Effects, helps build 600-square-foot fenced enclosures for dog owners who can't afford them, she said.

About 120 people chained themselves in demonstrations throughout the country, but the main Dogs Deserve Better event was in Greenville, Thayne said.

Six demonstrators kept themselves chained for about 28 hours, starting Saturday morning and ending Sunday afternoon, Thayne said.

They spent their days at Piazza Bergamo to draw attention to their cause and slept under a barn overhang at a local farm, Thayne said.

Several others tethered themselves part of the time, she said.

It takes a dog lover to give up so much time and comfort, and Hardy fits the profile.

She has nine dogs, all rescued animals, in addition to two children and a husband.

There is plenty of room for all on their three-acre spread, she said.

Of the nine dogs, she said, three are pit bulls and two of those, Martha Goldfinch (a male) and Seymore (who is blind) had been chained.

When she put Martha on a leash to take him for a walk, he went in a circle.

She finally had to put him on a treadmill so he would walk forward.

Even for dog lovers, being chained made for a grueling, exhausting weekend.

When Thayne finally threw off her chain, she said she had “the best shower of the year.”

Unfortunately, chained dogs are extremely common here in the south. Admittedly, it's better than being charged by a large, angry rottweiler, which happened to me while on an evening walk, around 1991. But I later learned the dog that charged me was usually chained up. (My defense: I ran right into the street, a busy thoroughfare, and took my chances; the dog actually attempted to cross the street after me but became confused by the heavy traffic and retreated. But the dog was confused, not scared and not chastened, by any means. One of the most unnerving, frightening experiences I have ever had.) Neighbors agreed the dog seemed perpetually angry and ill-tempered, and predictably, wore one of those spiky collars, which made him appear even scarier. But I now realize that even for a rottweiler, the dog had been trained to be mean and "amped up" (see above) for a fight by being chained all the time.

Once you chain such a dog, it becomes dangerous to UNchain them, as I am here (but almost wasn't!) to attest...

My other dog-charging story involves a large unchained pit bull that started charging toward me at several hundred yards... I nearly died on the spot. Nowhere to run, deer in the headlights, I just stood there. I said my Hail Marys and prepared to meet my maker, hoping it wasn't too painful.

Well, the dog turned out to be a VERY LARGE pit bull PUPPY, delightedly galumphing toward me in welcome, tail wagging.... happy to make my acquaintance. He jumped on me, ecstatically happy and licking me with puppy-love. I nearly wet myself as I petted him, weak with relief, burbling insanely "...what a good doggie, what a good doggie...."...Oh dear God. Whew.

As the expression goes, good fences make good neighbors, and I would add, good fences also make good dog owners!


SnowdropExplodes said...

I'm pretty confident around dogs, but I too have seen that the more aggressive ones tend to be the ones who have been chained up a lot.

I still tell the story of when i was the only one of my "well 'ard" university housemates willing to go fetch our soccer ball after it went over a wall into someone's back garden, from which came ferocious barking and growling. Turned out the dog in question was chained up a long way away from where the ball landed and there was no risk at all - but again, the aggression probably came from the chained-up condition.

La Lubu said...

People that chain their poor dogs all the time drive me up the wall. Those are the same folks that never take the dog for a walk, and the dog is starved for human attention. It tends to go along with other forms of neglect like not getting rid of fleas.

With that said---Daisy, this is the first time I've been able to get to your blog for a while. When I first click on, I get the "Internet Explorer cannot open....operation aborted." Why is that? I've noticed that with a couple of other blogspot addresses, but I like coming to yours on a regular basis. I don't know why it worked today, but it did on my third try (I came here from womanist musings).

sheila said...

This is completely true. As a dog owner all my life, we never chained our dogs. When we moved to a new house, the first thing to go up was a fence. Not only to keep the dogs IN but to avoid them getting out and scaring someone or possibly being sued somehow.

I couldn't even fathom chaining the dog. Plus, like stated in your post, the leashes/chains are very damaging if a kid or even an adult gets caught in one. Dogs don't understand if the chain is hurting someone.

Vanessa said...

The last dog I owned, a seriously beloved pet that I grew up with, got hit by a car after my sister let her outside but failed to hook her to the chain. We had a 10 foot wall in our backyard that the dog would *climb*. So personally I'm kind of *meh* about chaining up your dog.