Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chain Reaction - PART I

In any neighborhood, on any street, around any corner, there is a good chance you will see man’s best friend confined to the end of a chain.   

Dogs are social beings.  Simply put, they like being around other animals and humans.  These animals want companionship.  Put a dog on a chain (or tether) and leave him alone in one spot for days, months, or even years and he will suffer immensely, both physically and psychologically.

If one takes a friendly dog and keeps him continuously chained, the animal will often become aggressive.  So why does chaining increase aggression?  When confronted with perceived threats dogs respond, like most living creatures, according to their fight-or-flight instinct.  A chained dog, unable to take flight, will feel forced to fight, attacking any unfamiliar animal or person who enters his territory.  These dogs cannot distinguish between friend or foe, because they have not been adequately socialized.  Unfortunately, the victims of attack are often children who are unaware of the danger of approaching “the nice doggy”.  Furthermore, a tethered dog who may manage to break loose from his bonds is likely to chase and attack anything in its path, whether it be unsuspecting people or animals. 

In addition, these chained dogs endure unbelievable hardship.  They suffer from erratic feeding, overturned water bowls, and have no, or limited access to, adequate medical care.  It is not unusual to find a chained dog starved, dehydrated, and ill because it had become entangled in its chain and was unable to access food or water.  They also suffer from weather variations.  During periods of extreme cold, there is no warmth. Rarely is there adequate shelter during heavy periods of rain and snow.  When temperatures soar to triple digits, they often do not have protection from the sun or sufficient, clean water to quench their thirst.  Moreover, because they are in a very confined area,  not only do they sleep, defecate and eat all in one place but often it is  nothing but a patch of hardened dirt or mud that is rarely, if ever, cleaned.

In many cases, the ropes encircling their necks or the tight collars worn become embedded, the result of years of neglect and constantly straining to escape their bond of confinement.  Chained dogs are rarely given affection simply because their owners can easily ignore them.  As a result, approaching them becomes more and more difficult because of the inadequate socialization.
In addition, dogs forced to live on a chain are very vulnerable to other animals and cruel people.  Many have suffered immensely from the hands of merciless individuals.  They have been shot at, set on fire, tortured beyond endurance and poisoned.  They are very easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for sale or use them for dog fighting operations.  As a final indignity, the dog’s chain can easily become tangled, thus slowly strangling him to death. 
Under the California Health and Safety Code, Section 122335, it is illegal to tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog, to a doghouse, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.  It is further prohibited to tether a dog to a running line, trolley, or pulley with a choke collar or pinch collar.  It is legal to tether a dog for any activity not fitting into any exemption, provided the restraining of the dog is necessary for the completion of a task, is temporary, and lasts only for a reasonable period of time.  The California law defines a reasonable period of time as no more than three hours in a 24-hour period.  Animal control, however, can authorize a longer reasonable period in particular cases.  Violation of the dog-tethering laws in California is either an infraction or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity.  Upon conviction, an infraction is punishable by a fine of up to $250 per illegally tethered dog.  A misdemeanor violation carries a penalty of up to $1,000 in fines per dog, six months in county jail, or both.  Animal control does have the discretion to issue a warning requiring a dog owner to correct the violation instead of recommending criminal charges, but  may not issue a warning if the dog has been injured by the violation or a previous warning has been issued.

Chaining is a terribly cruel fate for the animal we consider to be “Man’s best friend”.


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