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Have a heart for chained dogs
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Have a heart for chained dogs

Happy Monday!

Today is the first day of Have a Heart for Chained Dogs, a week-long national day of observance that advocates for the freedom of chained or penned up dogs.

The Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week began a couple of decades ago by the American charity organization known as Dogs Deserve Better. Founder Tamira Thayne wanted to get young people more involved in understanding the importance of treating dogs like members of the family so she initiated a campaign to deliver heartfelt Valentine’s cards to owners of chained up dogs.

“Chaining a dog outside with no socialization or care is dangerous. And starting kids off young is so very important,” says former Canine Manager Melissa Crampton, a team leader at Dogs Deserve Better, a 4,600-square-foot, full-functioning rehabilitation centre in Smithfield, VA. (The property was once the dog-fighting compound owned by Michael Vick, a former NFL quarterback who got involved in a dog fighting ring and spent 21 months in jail.)

How it works is really quite simple: when a dog is spotted chained or penned up in a back yard, a hand-written Valentine’s Day card is mailed to the dog’s owner, along with a brochure that encourages them to bring the dog inside and free them from their chained existence.

“We continue to send out Valentine’s cards all through February and beyond,” says Melissa. “It depends on how many folks send in requests for help with a chained or penned dog.”

Unlike here in Canada where it’s mostly legal to leave dogs chained up outside (Manitoba is currently reviewing its Responsible Pet Ownership By-law that would include a ban on 24/7 chaining or tethering; New Brunswick brought in a dog-tethering law back 2014 that restricts tethering between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 30 minutes or less; Calgary has an outright ban on unattended dog tethering; and in B.C., tethering is banned in Terrace, New Westminster and Lions Bay), the United States has laws that limit how owners can tether their dogs.

“Some counties are trying to pass a law to ban tethering all together,” says Melissa, adding such a legislation will soon take effect in Texas. “So although there are not complete bans, there are laws to legislate better situations for a chained dog.”

In the meantime, Melissa and her dog-loving colleagues down south hope this week heading up to the yearly romantic holiday will help shine a bit of light and compassion on an already dire situation.

“If a chained dog becomes stressed or goes into total protection mode, that dog becomes a danger to the community,” says Melissa, adding awareness is a key component to the campaign. “And we hope that a Valentine’s Day card for their dog on a chain might strike a chord.”

Have a great week!

Leesa Dahl

Leesa Dahl

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