We’ve all seen the TV commercials and the images on social media with a poor dog standing outside, chained to a doghouse or a tree and looking so lonely that we want to just leap into the picture and scoop that pooch right up.
When I see it happen for real, it makes me really mad.
Mad enough that I don’t hesitate to call animal control if I see it — and mad enough to do everything I can to ensure that the pet parent won’t be a pet parent for long.
But do I really have the right to do that? The short answer is: Darned right, I do!
Many people believe that simply because animals have fur or that they’re animals, they’ll be warm enough or instinctively know what to do to survive. They’re animals, right?
Unfortunately, wrong. These animals are domesticated, and when we domesticate animals to gain their friendship and cooperation, we dilute that animal’s ability to survive in the wild. Sure, we all hear stories about dogs braving the elements to make it back thousands of miles away, but that’s why they’re such big news — because it rarely happens.
Dogs need the freedom to exercise, an adequate diet, sufficient water, and love and affection. They’re not so different from people when you think about it. People who are always alone are lonely, so why wouldn’t a dog be lonely too?
Dogs are capable of feeling quite a range of emotions, and being left out there in the backyard and excluded from life — even down South, where it’s warmer — is not only dangerous to them; it’s cruel.
Dogs who are chained and left for hours on end run the risk of accidentally strangling themselves on their chains.
On cold days they can freeze to death, and on hot days they can suffer heatstroke just as a person would.
Not to mention that if it rains, it’s pretty miserable to be wet. Who likes coming in from a sudden rain shower completely drenched and squelching across the floor? The first thing we do is change our clothes, right?
A dog can’t do that; he simply suffers — and just like us, he runs the risk of getting sick.
Picture it for a moment: You’re living in the backyard with almost no human contact. A small house is nearby for shelter if you’re lucky, with no room to stretch your legs and perhaps a bowl half filled with dirty rainwater.
Imagine being able to smell all the fascinating scents of the world outside your chained area and know that you can’t be a part of it. No affection or love or happiness — just day in and day out exposure to the heat, the cold and the loneliness.
If none of that gives you pause when you think about chaining your dog outside and left alone, here is some food for thought: All 50 states have laws that prohibit animal cruelty, and in some states this is a felony offense.
A person does not have to knowingly intend to neglect his dog, but if in the end the dog or animal has suffered, that is enough to bring charges of animal neglect or cruelty against the pet caretaker.
For example, I live in Massachusetts. If I see an animal tethered outside for hours or days on end and being neglected, I can call the authorities. From there, if the pet caretaker is charged with animal neglect, she can be charged with a felony offense. It’s a pretty big deal!
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If you see a case of animal neglect or cruelty, don’t just walk by. Take the time to report it. Take pictures, make notes and get video. Call your local animal control or any veterinarian’s office, and they can help direct you to your state’s proper authorities. It doesn’t take much time time and can make all the difference in the life of a dog who is suffering.
This video shows the legal consequences of leaving a dog in dangerous conditions:
Warning: Some viewers may find the content graphic.
And please, I know dogs are just about the most amazing animals on earth, but if you don’t have the time to devote to a dog or if you’re just going to leave him chained outside all day while you’re out, get a pet fish instead.