St Francis Animal Rescue has been successfully unchaining tethered dogs in our local township of Sea Vista since December 2019 and, to date, we have set 48 dogs free.
Most people think chaining is done out of cruelty, but there are practical reasons why owners chain dogs. The dog may be aggressive with other dogs and even humans, or it may be a repeat escapee and the owner is trying to keep it from wandering. The most common reason for dogs to be kept on a chain is because the property is unfenced and close to a busy road where the dog may be hurt if it gets out.
Sadly, most owners are unaware of the physical and psychological damage caused to a naturally friendly and docile dog over time. The animal can become neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive. Dog’s necks become raw and painful and we’ve seen collars or chains grow into the skin. Chained dogs are vulnerable to parasites, insects, extreme weather, other dogs and children who throw stones and taunt them.
Worse of all, in our experience, a tethered dog becomes invisible to the family and suffers from irregular feeding, lack of water and shelter.
When our volunteers find a dog on a chain, we have an honest discussion with the owner and explain the damage done to the animal by keeping it tethered. Once the owner understands that chaining must end, we discuss practical options. We offer the owner a fence around his property to confine his dog safely within his yard. In return, we ask that the owner cleans the yard and disposes of all accumulated rubbish. Then, with his permission, we sterilize his dog and start building a fence too high for the animal to jump over.
At the end of this process, together with the owner, we celebrate removing the chain from the dog and giving it to St Francis Animal Rescue with a promise the dog will never be chained again,.
When we can afford it, we donate a kennel, blankets, drinking bowls, food and a collar and leash – and encourage the dog owner to take the animal for regular walks so that he is exercised.
It must be admitted that this work is not easy. There are often debates and arguments during the process. Some people refuse to sterilize their dog until they learn that this is a non-negotiable part of the process and, unless the dog is neutered or spayed, fencing does not commence.
Ultimately, however, we are able, through education and assistance, to change the practice of chaining and instil in our community that a chained dog is a dangerous dog not only to strangers, but also to his owner.
There is no greater joy than that of releasing a dog from a chain and watching him run free enjoying his independence and, at last, living the life of a normal, happy dog. The rewards of this work re priceless.