Friday Firesmith – Unchain Your Heart – Unchain Your Dog

If you hate Facebook I can’t say I blame you but before you write the most popular platform for social media off completely let me tell you that without Facebook, Dog Rescue doesn’t exist in its current form. Lilith was found through Facebook when she ran away. Hundreds, yes, hundreds, of posts go out each year about lost dogs and every Facebook user is another set of eyes out there who can spot a missing pet.

But it goes deeper than that. There are a half-dozen or so members of a local rescue group who read through Craig’s List and the local Lost and Found sites online looking for people who are giving away dogs and cats. Why? Because some of these people who are trying to get rid of pets are actually trying to get rid of animals they found, and we in Rescue try to reunite the owners with their lost pets. There are people online who “flip” dogs and cats but taking free pets and then selling them. You do not want to know what happens to those who aren’t sold quickly. There are people who try to start backyard breeding factories and we find those too. Dog Fighters hate us with a passion because when we hear about someone looking for Pitbulls, and they’ve been looking before, red flags go up. Nearly every activity that Rescue does gets cranked via social media.

I can’t remember when it happened, but one day the call went out, as it often does. This wasn’t a lost dog, or a bake sale, or the photo of someone dumping a dog on the side of the road (yes, that has happened, yes, more than once) but something different. A local vet was trying to get a “No tether” ordinance pass and was slated to speak at the Lowndes County Commissioners meeting. Show up, and wear gray! I went and bought a gray turtleneck and went to the meeting.

It was awesome.

I counted one hundred people there wearing gray. It was standing room only and the County Commissioners were clearly stunned. For every person standing, or sitting, in that room, they were looking at ten more who wanted to be there. That’s 1,000 votes. Elections could be lost by that amount. Or won. But clearly this was not something they expected and just as clearly, this was something they could ill afford to ignore.

The vet spoke her mind and very eloquently made her case against keeping dogs chained. How it is it to live a life that way, with just a few feet of freedom, outside in the rain and the cold, never to know the love and comfort of a family. It makes dogs aggressive and it makes them psychotic. They don’t get to socialize and they feel isolated and abandoned. A woman was killed by a dog that finally lost its mind and broke its chain. You could see it in their faces. They had never ever considered it. They looked around and saw standing room only, and nearly everyone wearing gray.

The ordinance was passed.

It isn’t perfect and getting it enforced is another matter. But now we have people saying out loud, “Dogs are not lawn ornaments.” And other people are listening.

Unite with fellow animal lovers and go out and do this. Make a stand, get people involved, and stand up in public and speak the truth as you know it. Social media gets a nod here for helping with the win, certainly, but people who wanted to make a difference showed up, and the government listened.

Unchain your heart, unchain your dog, and get involved.
Take Care,
Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
 
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.
 
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35 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Unchain Your Heart – Unchain Your Dog

    • and these people that abuse and torture animals and just get a slap on the wrist from the courts that really makes me mad

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    • Depends. A dog that is a watchdog for, say, a military installation cannot and should not be a part of family life.
      But of course even watchdogs deserve at the very least a shelter from rain and foul weather – and a chain or better area with at least several dozen yards in all directions. Ideally it also isn’t alone all the time – e.g. because it isn’t “on duty” 24/7.

      Fortunately modern technology made most watchdogs unnecessary.

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      • How effective a watchdog is it if it is limited to barking to warn of an intruder? That’s what happens when a dog is chained. It can only hurt a “bad guy” if he gets within the area of the chain, and he can shoot it like shooting a fish in a barrel. Having a dog or two who roams within a fenced area and are trained to go after anyone lurking about or coming through the fence are much more aversive deterrents–as long as they cannot be shot first.

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      • Engywuck, I am perfectly happy to have my dogs inside of the house rather than outside. It’s a lot more effective in keeping people on the outside out. A dog outside might be slain before I awoke but anyone intent on coming in has to get past those dogs first.

        In a military situation I believe most dogs sleep with their handlers.

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  1. When I was a teenager, I had a German Shepherd and my parents made me give him up when I got a job. They said I would no longer have time for him while working which I didn’t agree with, but what can a 15 year old do about it. The older man that he went to live with said he could have the run of his 40 acres and would be well cared for and that I could visit anytime I wanted. The first time I visited, I found the dog on a chain. He had a nice size dog house but still on a chain. When I asked about it, the man said it was because the dog killed his peacocks that roamed the property. As soon as I was able to move out of my parent’s house, I went to that house one night and slipped his collar off and left it with the chain. He lived a nice life after that in a loving home.

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  2. What the politicians often do when a large crowd shows up they’re not prepared for, is say the venue is too small to conduct the business at hand safely and within the fire safety code. Since we elected officials always put the safety of our constituents above all, the meeting is postponed until an appropriate venue is secured. The meeting will be announced through normal channels.

    Translation
    We’re gonna jerk you around while we find out what’s at stake, who has the political clout and the money. After we determine which horse to ride, we’ll announce the delayed meeting will be on a weekday(workday), during working hours, at a location nobody knows, at the last minute so nobody can organize.

    Back to the Dogs.
    “So sad to see a dog chained with just a few feet of chain and no shelter from the weather.”
    Yes, that’s why that image is used in the TV ads. Rain helps, along with sad music. The word chain is always used to incite the image of a tiny mutt on an anchor chain like they use on TV ads.

    “Dogs are not lawn ornaments! They should be part of family life.”
    If five people in the house work, there’s only so many shepherd jobs. Maybe each person have one day a week as take your dog to work day. Heaven forbid there’s more than one dog.

    Calm down, you may think I’m being an asshole (maybe a little), but I’m pointing out this one sentiment driven law, doesn’t fit all circumstances, and may do more harm than good. The question is still, if nobody is home on weekdays what is the acceptable length of ROPE to tie the dog out?

    There’s a shitload of dog owners who don’t have acres to roam, can’t afford to fence what they have, and in many cases local ordinances don’t permit a fence that will keep a dog in or out.
    Chain link dog run? If legal, still expensive, and again, how big is big enough? Is it more humane to have the prisoner pacing a 12 ft cell than a 10 ft cell, an 8 ft cell?
    Shelter. My dog would lay next to his doghouse in rain, snow, sleet, or cold, but would go in for shade. You’ll never see a dog go to a tanning salon.
    Water. Sure, cold fresh mountain stream images are great, but when you’re thirsty, really parched, a tepid bowl with a couple gnats floating in it will do.

    What’s the solution? Dog welfare services checks you out before you get a permit to own a dog? Then when the dog reaches 18 in doggie years you have to turn it loose?

    Life sucks and then you die, is a little extreme but adults recognize reality smacks us and our pets everyday. Trying to pass a law against it is a joke. Trying to pass a law against the worst cases is commendable but a hell of a lot more complicated than “no short chains”.

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    • Bruce, a few small repairs,

      What the politicians often do when a large crowd shows up they’re not prepared for, is say the venue is too small to conduct the business at hand safely and within the fire safety code.

      Not in all cases and not in this case. It’s defeatist and lazy to assume you cannot make a difference when we’ve proven it can be done.

      If five people in the house work, there’s only so many shepherd jobs. Maybe each person have one day a week as take your dog to work day. Heaven forbid there’s more than one dog.

      Not all people should own a dog. The health and well being of the dog supercedes the human’s desire to chain an animal to a tree and leave it there. Moreover, it is a safety issue. Chained dogs tend to be agressive and the last person in this area killed by a dog was mauled when a dog that had been chained all its life finally broke free.

      Calm down, you may think I’m being an asshole (maybe a little), but I’m pointing out this one sentiment driven law, doesn’t fit all circumstances, and may do more harm than good.

      Maybe a little more than you think, if you think these laws do more harm than good. This is not sentiment but good, strong, logic driven care for animals and the safety of humans at large.

      You know better.

      The question is still, if nobody is home on weekdays what is the acceptable length of ROPE to tie the dog out? The answer is you never leave a dog alone for a weekend period. The animal isn’t a gd plant or a something you are allowed to forget for the sake of going to see Justin Billble in a bar. When a person decides to take a dog in this isn’t a responsibility they can pick and choose to ignore.

      Either care for the dog properly or don’t have a dog. It is really quite simple. There’s a standard that must be met and I have no problem at all being part of the process that sets that standard.

      You don’t like it? Vote against those people who make the laws. We’ve got you outnumbered on this one.

      There’s a shitload of dog owners who don’t have acres to roam, can’t afford to fence what they have, and in many cases local ordinances don’t permit a fence that will keep a dog in or out.

      Not everyone should own a dog. Some people simply cannot and some should not.

      What’s the solution?

      I am. Me and ninety-nine more people like me and ten thousand more who will vote for or against people who oppose us or support us.

      See that billboard? Get used to seeing more of them. Get used to the idea that we’re going to raise the standard of living for dogs and we’re going to raise the level of compassion for our own species and we are going to set a standard for the care of dogs.

      Trying to pass a law against it is a joke.

      But that is what we did. And we’re just getting warmed up. There is power, real power, in the organizations that are working for these laws and we did get the law passed and we will keep fighting.

      Trying to pass a law against the worst cases is commendable but a hell of a lot more complicated than “no short chains”.

      We are Rescue. We’ve been fighting against long odds and indifference for many years and this is not by far our toughest fight. We fear no long hard road. We care not if it is complicated for others because our path is clear.

      We will insure animals are cared for in a proper manner and we will pass laws and we will see they are enforced.

      See, Bruce, that wasn’t complicated at all, was it?

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  3. Bruce – I agree with you regarding what politicians often do in response to a large crowd who present themselves with something to say. Often the officials don’t want to hear it and are anxious to find a way to delay the conversation until they have sound bites to answer with.
    With regard to the dogs on chains, wow, Bruce, I didn’t realize you were such a cynic!
    Yes, why do they use the image of a dog on a chain with no shelter from the weather? Maybe, because it IS sad, horrifying, cruel and goes against an animal’s natural instincts.
    So, if a five person family has a dog(s) and no one is interested in including the dog in their family life, please tell me, why do they have the dog?
    There is really little to no excuse to tie a dog outside. It is animal abuse and neglect. Dogs are companion animals and by nature, part of a pack. Without socialization with humans and other animals, they become bored, anxious and stressed and develop aggression. The lack of leadership and pack structure, along with the sense of confinement, isolation and of being trapped makes them feel vulnerable and they eventually, become neurotic.
    Did you know that a full 25% of fatal dog attacks are due to chained dogs? Why? When the freedom of a dog is restricted, their territorial behavior becomes magnified. Without the ability to roam around and play, they feel open to attack from any encroaching creature and so defense mechanisms are triggered. If off the tether, and able to engage in their natural behaviors, they can be their normal, loving, happy, friendly selves.
    Dogs need love, attention and inclusion in your pack. They need a caring home, the ability to run around and play, a warm place to sleep at night and a daily walk to satisfy their natural migration instinct.
    A dog house doesn’t cut it either. A dog house is just like a car in the heat – it rapidly becomes an oven and a bowl of water heats up, just the same. The chain that the animal is tethered on often causes neck and/or back injuries. Dogs have also been known to accidentally hang themselves when the rope has caught on an unyielding element.
    And, did you wonder why your dog hesitated to go into his doghouse in rain, snow, sleet or cold? It’s because he did not want to put himself into a situation of being further trapped. If in intruder approaches, he has no means of escape. He’d rather be out in the elements and be able to sense an approaching enemy, then to be surprised in his doghouse like a sitting duck. The fear and tension of being on a chain causes him to be under constant heightened alert and stress.
    Why was your dog outside during the workday, anyway? Could your pet not be allowed to stay in the warm house in the winter or the cooled house in the summer? I’m sure he would have much preferred looking out windows and waiting for your return, then watching the same blade of grass grow all day long. If you say, but he’d wreck the place, then possibly he would benefit from some obedience training or the use of a crate. Dogs feel secure in a crate as it’s indoors, transparent on all sides, yet closed so nothing can get at them.
    Life does NOT suck and then you die. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest – full of joy, love, excitement and life-altering experiences. You are only meant to die when life no longer offers you something new to explore. In the case of a chained dog, that might appear to be … never?
    And besides, the better you treat your dog, the better they’ll treat you.

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    • Well said.

      I understand that people may not have the ability to have a dog in the house most of the time, and they may not have the funds or the space to have a nice, secure fence built. I get that. The dog cannot be allowed to roam at large–that’s dangerous and illegal. So, sometimes people have dogs that need to be contained but they have no way other than a chain. At least, that’s their thinking. Many times, with a little ingenuity, some training, and some patience, they can make a garage, crate in the house, or something else work. If they do not have any of these things, it’s true–they shouldn’t have acquired a dog in the first place. If the dog is friendly and trainable, I’d rather see it go to a home where it will have its needs met, rather than living a life of solitary isolation and frustration. But that solution is only helpful for the dog.

      Sometimes, people who must resort to chaining feel as if they have no other option and they truly love that dog. Sounds impossible? It’s not. In some cities now, there are resources that will help these pet owners get their dogs off chains whenever possible so they can keep the pets they love. That’s a solution that helps both the dog and the owners, who are not all assholes, believe it or not.

      I’m not in favor of chaining dogs, but it’s not 100% black and white. Rescuers have hearts of gold, but sometimes they forget that human beings deserve respect, too. I have much more respect for those who seek to help both animals AND the humans that care for them.

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      • I certainly agree that it’s not 100% black or white. Nothing is and we definitely need to respect people’s thoughts, feelings and reasoning, even if we don’t agree.
        I’ve heard of that amazing group who assist owners with fencing and other means to help their dog live a better life. I wish that was available everywhere. As you said, it would help everyone – people and pets.

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  4. I don’t like these “feel-good’ efforts that accomplish nothing. My dog spent his life on a long cable run and loved it. He was always taken care of – you wouldn’t believe how pampered he was. He didn’t like inside our house, and after a few minutes, he was ready to get back to his house. It’s nobody’s business how I keep a pet safe (as long as the animal isn’t mistreated). Remember that these same bleeding hearts normally support murdering unborn humans. Get your nose out of other people’s business. If a dog has a collar that is embedded through lack of attention, there are already laws to handle it. My dog had heated water, heated sleeping pad, big window in his house, etc. But I can’t tether him? Many breeds can’t stand the temperatures in a home.

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    • “these same bleeding hearts normally support murdering unborn humans”. Sounds like you’ve got your nose in other people’s business.

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    • Stanley,
      I don’t like these “feel-good’ efforts that accomplish nothing.

      We feel good that we have accomplished something. The idea that you don’t like it isn’t relevant.

      Get your nose out of other people’s business.

      Odd, isn’t it? Something you don’t like ought to be outlawed and something you do is your own business. You sound a lot like those people who owned slaves and thought since there was a legal ownership that was how it ought to be forever.

      Ever wonder if those slaves yearned to run free and live a better life or do you think they were pampered?

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  5. My job won’t allow me to take a dog with me to work, I can’t fence my yard, and a dog would be alone 16-18 hours a day. That’s why, as much as I’d love one, I don’t own a dog.

    I got into an argument with a dog “rescuer” once. Her belief is that a dog locked in a crate in my mud room or tied out on a chain for 16-18 hours a day would be better off than one in a shelter. In my opinion, that dog would be missing out on the chance to find a home where it would receive the care it deserves 24/7. 6 hours in bed with me at night isn’t enough.

    I do have 2 rescued cats but they’re entirely self sufficient as long as the crunchies dish is full and they get a dish of gushy food when I get home.

    I get my dog fix volunteering at a place that raises and trains service dogs. There is a certain zen about scooping poop while watching the sun rise.

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  6. I wish we had laws like that here. Before I moved last year, I lived next to some people who totally neglected their dogs. One was tied outside on a chain in all kinds of weather. I could hear her crying during the rainstorms. The other was just left out. She at least could crawl under the shed and get out of the weather.
    I tried calling the city pound, and every animal rescue group I could find. Not a single one of them would do a thing. I know for sure they did not have their vaccinations up to date, the woman told me so. She looked at me as if I had grown another head when I mentioned putting down granules in her yard to prevent fleas, ticks and ants, so I’m pretty sure they were riddled with vermin. I wanted to dog nap the one poor dog when I left, but she was so skittish from having no human contact, that I couldn’t even pet her. These are the types of people who make me almost forget that I don’t like to fight.I really would like to see people like that held accountable for their actions.

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  7. I’m not a dog owner, nor much of a dog person. How about this? Substitute “child” for dog in Mike’s post. Everyone (I hope) agrees you do not chain a child to a post in your yard. To dog owners, their dog is a child, and everything they do (and responsible parents do) revolves around consideration for the dog (or child).

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  8. I’m seeing extremists here, one end or the other with no middle ground.
    A dog tied out while the owner works is automatically on a 3 ft chain with no shelter or water. A dog locked it the house is happy to look out the window for 8 to 10 hours, and a dog in a crate for that time feels secure, (A 165 lb dog in a crate). None of those dogs are included in family life, part of the social interaction of the family. A scenario straight out of a dog’s horror movie. And that’s exactly what it is, Hollywood extreme, made up to enlist emotions.

    Yes there are cases where this happens, dog fighters, paranoid drug dealers, etc, but hardly a common situation. Mom and Dad go to work, kids go to school. Does that mean none of them are part of the social family? Of course not, it’s life, and dogs have to adjust to human schedules or GTFO. That’s the solution, kill 75 million dogs that can’t be catered to 24-7, instead of them having a not perfect life that’s pretty OK. Is that what you want? If somebody comes along that can make your life 50% better are you going to say, no thanks just kill me?

    The other end says stay out of my business, I’ll do anything I want. That doesn’t make them dog abusers. Nobody knows what they will, won’t, do, don’t. They just want to be left alone. I can see that sentiment growing in this country because of draconian laws and ordinances. This chain law is no different than the city ordinances that say No Pitbulls Allowed. Stupid and unfair because they think that will solve the problem, while it just creates problems for all the people who love their Pitbulls. No Aggressive Dogs, so kill it because it growled at you when you came on our turf uninvited to tell me about your god or sell a vacuum cleaner? But the laws says… The law sucks.

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    • Bruce, I know what sort of guns you carry yet I remain undeterred by the threat of flying spark plugs.

      I’m seeing extremists here, one end or the other with no middle ground.

      Here? On Friday Firesmith??? No! How could that be?!?!

      But what the laws were meant to do, and what they are going to do, is to keep people from tying dogs up forever.

      Everything is simply noise against signal. Sorry if that puts gnats in your tepid water.

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    • Bruce – I’m concerned. You are beginning to give me the idea that if someone doesn’t agree with you, you discount what they are trying to say.
      “A dog tied out while the owner works is automatically on a 3 ft chain with no shelter or water. A dog locked it the house is happy to look out the window for 8 to 10 hours, and a dog in a crate for that time feels secure, (A 165 lb dog in a crate). None of those dogs are included in family life, part of the social interaction of the family. A scenario straight out of a dog’s horror movie.”
      No one has suggested that a dog needs to be part of the family social group 24/7. Obviously, as you’re saying, that’s nearly impossible. Certainly a dog misses its family when they’re gone, but, yes, that’s part of life. The key is what happens with the dog during the intervening time and beyond. Does the dog’s owner interact with his/her pet in the morning before going to work? Does he/she tell the dog that they are leaving now and maybe give the pup a Kong to play with to ease the transition? Is the dog free to roam the house or to stay securely free of stress, fear and a sense of rejection? [Many dogs love their crate!] Then when the owner returns home, [hopefully after no more than 8 – 10 hrs.] is the dog immediately greeted with attention, maybe dinner and a walk? Does the dog become part of the family dynamic at that point, playing with and interacting with the others? Where does the dog then spend the night? Are they banished to the outdoors, which would be very frightening or allowed to sleep with the family pack in some way [on the floor, in the bed, outside the door]? A dog needs to feel part of the group. No, few dogs can be with their people all of the time, but the others do need the love and attention which can only be given when the animal is present in the lives of the owners.
      No one is saying that all dogs left outdoors are on a 3 ft. chain with no food or shelter. However, Bruce, I am also in animal rescue and boy, have I found animals in that situation many times too often. It is probably one of the saddest things to see. I have also seen cases where a family adores their dog, but live in a rental home and so cannot build a fence to safely allow the dog to go out to spend outdoor time/use the potty without putting him/her on a clothesline chain. That’s perfectly fine and few would complain about it. The dog is perfectly happy to spend a short time outdoors in that way, as long as the dog is let back in when it’s ready.
      I’m not sure, but it sounds as if possibly you agree with the animal rescue volunteer that dumpsterkitty met, the one who felt that an animal who spent 16 – 18 hrs alone in a crate or on a chain would be better off than one waiting in a shelter. There are people even within the organization that I work with who positively believe the same thing. I do not. To me, quality of life is so important. No animal could comfortably spend 16 – 18 hrs. in a crate and as we’ve said, a dog cannot spend their time safely, happily, comfortably and developmentally appropriately tied by a chain outdoors.
      In my area, a new set of by-laws were just implemented. I’d be interested to know how you feel about these. They state that: a dog may only be tethered outdoors within view of the owner; the tether must be at least 10 ft. long; the dog must have access to adequate water and shelter – shelter being in the shade and large enough for the dog to stand, turn around and stretch; for no more than 4 hours in a 24 hr. period; plus never, either in extreme hot or cold weather, or between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
      I am listening to your views and you are not alone in holding them. However, people such as Mike and I and thousands of others feel that a dog should not have to suffer due to their owners not understanding the dangers, both physical and mental, inherent in tying an animal by a chain.

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  9. Paul, I don’t have a solution, I don’t think there is A solution, we can’t even agree on what is or is not acceptable treatment. The zealots standard would mean 70odd million dogs should be taken away from their owners. The other end would allow every dog to run free.

    Of course you know no matter what the rules are, they don’t apply to the mayor’s nephew or the chief’s’ brother in law. So I think the best bet is making as many people as possible aware of what and why. Then when they go to someone’s house they don’t think, ‘good, the dog is chained up’, but think, ‘the dog is chained up, why, how long, does it have water?’

    Face it, not everyone likes dogs. Some fear them, and some are ambivalent… don’t even separate dogs from trees or pavement.
    The only effective way I know to change shit, is peer pressure.

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