Dogs Deserve Better, a national nonprofit working to end the suffering endured by dogs that are kept perpetually chained or caged, is fielding numerous reports this winter of dogs suffering and dying outdoors as bitter cold sweeps the country.
"In winter, our volunteers always see a large increase in the number of calls for help, often from concerned neighbors, who can no longer stand to hear a chained or penned dog cry or bark all night long, or who are just plain disturbed by the sight of a dog suffering through another winter," said Tamira Ci Thayne, founder and director of the six-year-old non-profit, which works on numerous fronts to change laws and minds and to educate people about the suffering endured by dogs that are kept as prisoners on a chain or in a cage.
In most places in the United States, it is legal to keep a dog outside and chained, no matter how far the temperatures drop.
"We encourage people to remember that although it can be hard to take a stand on behalf of neighbor's dog, a concerned neighbor can quite often make the difference between life and death for these animals," Thayne said.
Although the practice of 24/7 chaining is pervasive in many parts of the country, many states, counties, and cities have, in recent years, started to pass laws against the practice. California passed a law in 2006 and Texas followed suit in 2007. Hundreds of municipalities have passed, or are considering, similar legislation. In recent months, Frederick County, Maryland; Dallas, Texas; Moundsville, West Virginia; and Orange County, North Carolina have joined the ever-growing ranks of jurisdictions that passed laws that either ban chaining entirely or put severe restrictions on the practice.
However, an estimated 6 million "backyard dogs" are facing another lonely winter with nothing but a leaky doghouse, frozen water, no exercise, and agonizing days of nights of cold. Perpetually chained dogs often become neurotic or aggressive from their constant confinement, often posing a danger to people.
Dogs Deserve Better provides a variety of services to people who agree to take their dogs off their chains, including providing help with socialization and housetraining and building fences.
For more information, please see www.dogsdeservebetter.org.