These terms refer to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner's backyard. These terms do not refer to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.
Dogs are pack-animals; they are naturally social creatures that need to be part of a family. To become well-adjusted companion animals, dogs should interact regularly with people of different ages, races and genders as well as other animals, especially dogs. A dog should be taken on walks as a part of its daily routine. It is an owner's responsibility to properly restrain their dog at all times, just as it is the owner's responsibility to provide adequate attention, socialization and training. Placing an animal on a restraint to get fresh air can be acceptable if it is done for a short period of time. However, keeping an animal chained or tethered for long periods is never acceptable and considered inhumane.
- Dogs are naturally social creatures that thrive on interaction with other animals and humans.
- A dog that is chained in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage.
- An otherwise friendly and docile dog becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and often aggressive when kept continuously chained or tethered.
- In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars and the dogs' constant yanking and straining to escape confinement.
- Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks, which is the result of years of neglect at the end of a chain.
U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement in the July 2, 1996, Federal Register against tethering: "Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane.
A tether significantly restricts a dog's 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."
Rarely does a chained or tethered dog receive sufficient care. They typically suffer from the following on a daily basis:
- Sporadic feedings
- Overturned water bowls
- Inadequate veterinary care
- Extreme temperatures
- During snow storms, most of these dogs have no access to shelter.
- During periods of extreme heat, they may not receive water or adequate protection from the sun.
- Dogs eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in one single confined area which is incredibly unsanitary. These conditions often lead to health issues.
- Although there may have once been grass in an area of confinement, it usually becomes dirt or mud as a result of the dog’s constant pacing.
- Neurotic behavior due to being continuously chained makes these dogs very difficult to approach. Chained dogs are rarely given any affection which makes them very unhappy and aggressive toward people.
- Chained or tethered dogs may become "part of the scenery" and are often completely ignored by their owners.
Dogs chained or tethered for long periods can become highly aggressive. Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted with a perceived threat, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. A chained dog, unable to take flight, often feels forced to fight, resulting in an attack of any unfamiliar animal or person who unknowingly wanders into the dog’s territory.
Numerous attacks on people by chained or tethered dogs have been documented. A study published in the September 15, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reported that 17% of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were restrained on their owners' property at the time of the attack. Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often children who are unaware of the chained dog's presence until it is too late. Furthermore, a tethered dog that finally does get loose from his chains may remain aggressive, and is likely to chase and attack unsuspecting passersby and pets.
- Chaining or tethering a dog causes considerable psychological damage caused by continuous confinement.
- Dogs forced to live on a chain make easy targets for other animals, humans, and biting insects.
- A chained animal may also suffer constant harassment and teasing from humans.
- Another serious issue with chaining your dog is that it would have no defense from poisonous insect or snake bites.
- In the worst cases, chained dogs become victims of attacks by other predatory animals.
- Chained dogs are also easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for sale to research institutions for animal testing.
- Sadly, many chained dogs are stolen from their yard and used as bait dogs in illegal organized dog fights.
- Chained dogs may even become entangled with other objects in the yard, which can choke or strangle the dogs to death.
Attaching a dog's leash to a long line, such as a clothesline or a manufactured device known as a pulley run is preferable to tethering because the dog will have more freedom to roam and move about the area. However, many of the same problems associated with tethering still apply, including attacks on or by other animals, attacks on people, lack of socialization, and general safety issues.
- If an animal must be housed outside at certain times, it should be placed in a suitable pen with adequate square footage and shelter from the elements.
- Dog owners should have a tall fence (at least 6’) to keep strangers out as well as secure pets inside. This is an especially important tip for “Pit Bull” or “Pit Bull Type” owners.
- Dogs should generally be kept indoors at night or while no one is home.
- Animals that must be kept on a chain or tether should be secured in such a way that the tether cannot become entangled with other objects.
- Collars used to attach an animal should be comfortable and properly fitted (Collars need to be re-fitted as your dog matures and grows).
- Choke chains should never be used when tethering a dog.
- Restraints should allow the animal to move about and lie down comfortably.
- Dogs should be taken on daily, regular walks.
- Always provide your pet with adequate attention, food, water and veterinary care.
- Animals should never be tethered during natural disasters such as floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or blizzards.
- Animal control and humane agencies receive countless calls every day from citizens concerned about animals in these cruel situations.
- As a result, 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 sometimes ending in death.
- Chaining or tethering a dog alters the animal’s overall temperament and puts unknowing victims in danger of an attack.
- In the end, the helpless dog can only suffer the frustration of living in constant isolation. This is an unnecessarily cruel fate for what is by nature a highly social and loving creature. Just because chaining or tethering is not illegal, does not make it humane.
- Any city, county, or state that bans this practice is a safer, more humane community overall.
At least 25 communities have passed laws that regulate the practice of tethering animals. Maumelle, Arkansas; Tucson, Arizona; and New Hanover, North Carolina are a few of those communities that prohibit the chaining or tethering of dogs as a means of continuous confinement. Many other communities allow tethering under strict conditions; Jefferson County, Kentucky for example, prohibits dogs from being tethered for more than eight hours in any 24-hour period. These regulations were enacted by concerned citizens of the community just like you. Don’t underestimate the power of the people.
- Most importantly, do research!
- Always practice safety awareness in your neighborhood.
- Contact local legislators with letters and polite phone calls.
- When contacting legislators, always offer a successful alternative as a solution.
- Petitions are a great way to express concern and awareness for current laws to change.
Contact your local legislators as a concerned citizen, about regulating or banning the chaining and tethering of dogs in your neighborhood. Even if you do not have a pet, your family’s safety could be at risk of an unnecessary attack from a neglected or abused neighbor’s dog. These dangerous situations can be prevented or avoided with proper precautions and child-safety awareness.
No dog should be forced to live a lonely life of isolation and cruelty. Every community has the power to change & improve safety conditions for their neighborhood. By exercising that power you will improve the poor quality of life for those helpless and neglected dogs living a hopeless life of solitude. No dog enjoys being endlessly stuck on a chain when a warm bed is only a glance away. All it takes a little effort to make the world a better place for our children and our dogs. Why not start in your own backyard?