Recently a reader wrote to Xpress, dismayed about a chained dog in her neighborhood looking forlorn and neglected. She was frustrated that Buncombe County animal control would not intervene.
"Tethering" is the official term for keeping a dog continually tied up outdoors. Although it is illegal in the city of Asheville, Buncombe County does not have a law prohibiting the practice. Read Mountain Xpress' coverage of the 2009 debate in the Asheville City Council about the ordinance here. Asheville's animal ordinance can be found here. Buncombe County's animal ordinance is here.
There are a variety of reasons why the sight of chained dogs make people cringe: Dogs are social and want to live with a pack; chained dogs often appear (and often are) neglected; they can become neurotic and dangerous from the boredom and confinement. The Humane Society of the United States, the Centers for Disease Control, USDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association have all issued statements against continuous tethering.
ChainFree Asheville is a local group doing what they can to help these dogs, one at a time. They provide fences for dog owners who need assistance and, to-date, more than 90 dogs have benefited. In addition, the group has helped provide insulated doghouses and toys for many outdoor dogs, and is active in politics trying to change laws that allow continuous chaining.
What can you do about that dog you see everyday out in the cold? According to ChainFree, there are some things in particular not to do: Don't make the owner defensive so that they will resist any assistance; and don't buy or steal the dog (a new puppy will likely replace it). Although it may not be in your power to remove the chains, there are a few things that can be done to make that dog's life a little better, but you will have to work with the owner, which becomes almost impossible if you start by offending them.
Check out the ChainFree site for more tips.
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