USA: what can I do to help chained/tethered dogs?

In the USA, Nathan Winograd, the founder and manager of The No Kill Advocacy Center has model legislation, a guide on how to get it introduced and NKAC attorneys standing by ready to help if you live in a state that does not ban dog chaining! How about that for an introduction? I don’t think you will get better than having Nathan Winograd on your side. This article contains my opinion as well as some facts.

Chained dog
Chained dog. Image: Nathan Winograd’s No Kill Advocacy Center.
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The first thing, therefore, is to find out if your community by which I mean county, city, township or state, has laws regulating dog tethering.

The Humane Society advises that you to consider working with community officials to create regulations which, as I understand it, for a city or county would be an ‘ordinance’ to use American language or a ‘local law’ to use UK language.

There will be existing animal welfare laws which might do not include dog tethering and therefore these laws might need to be amended. Although at the base of the article I question whether existing animal welfare laws automatically categorise dog tethering as animal cruelty.

A big issue, for me, is whether dog tethering is automatically a breach of animal welfare laws. Dog tethering is cruel as far as I am concerned. But it probably isn’t cruel enough under some animal welfare regulations to be a breach of those regulations. I find that strange but that would seem to be the way it is.

If tethering is legal where you are it may be possible to ask your local animal care and control agency to talk to the dog’s owner to see whether they can improve things. The Humane Society state that most situations can be improved “through positive engagement and support services”.

In those instances where there is clear animal abuse then you can bring into play animal welfare laws and report the matter to the police.

There may be a non-profit organisation to which a person can turn to help convince a dog owner who tethers the dog to stop it through education together with resources and services on pet care.

The Humane Society do not recommend that chained dogs are rescued because it will lead to the dog owner adopting another dog to chain up. And secondly, they don’t want dogs ending up in rescue centres. It is better to try and educate and reform the person who owns a tethered dog rather than taking that dog from them and placing them in a rescue centre, which are already overwhelmed with many dogs competing for homes.

On the news front, Nathan Winograd reports on a Texas man who was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals for leaving a dog tied up outside without shelter, food and water during heavy rains, strong winds and cold temperatures. In Texas the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act which became law last year, abolishes short restraints. It requires that dogs are provided with shelter, shade, food, water and the ability to protect themselves.

The story to me points to the fact that often tethered and chained dogs are being abused. The very fact that they are chained and cannot express their natural desires is abuse. In the UK dog tethering is classified as animal abuse under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in my opinion. This is an automatic classification because under that law companion animals are required to be able to express their natural behaviour.

To prevent it must be an abuse of that animal. Why, therefore, are not all dog tethering occurrences prosecuted under local animal welfare laws? Can someone please clarify?

Nathan Winograd has a picture of a dog on a chain with the words “And homeless near a thousand homes I stood”.

He rightly says that dogs offer their human caregiver’s undying loyalty and unconditional love. All they ask for in return is “nothing more than a sense of belonging.”

When a dog owner banishes their dog to the outside, chained up for their lives, it is “a betrayal of what should be a loving pact. And that is no way to treat our best friends”.

Google’s new AI chat box ChatGPT describes dog tethering like this:

“Tethering, or tying a dog to a stationary object, is a common practice that is often used to keep a dog in a particular area or to prevent it from running away. However, tethering a dog for long periods of time can be harmful to the dog’s physical and mental well-being, and some people consider it to be an immoral practice. Tethering can restrict a dog’s movement and prevent it from engaging in natural behaviors such as running, jumping, and exploring. It can also cause the dog to become anxious or aggressive and can lead to physical problems such as muscle atrophy, pressure sores, and injuries from getting tangled in the tether. For these reasons, many animal welfare organizations and advocates believe that tethering a dog for long periods of time is a form of animal cruelty and should be avoided.”

I think it is very good.

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