Give Voiceless A Voice For Valentine's

FOCUS ON PETS

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Watching my dogs run through the beautiful new snow, it is easy to see they do not have a care in the world. They hide behind the bushes and play tag. When they finally tire and get cold, they track through the house and collapse on their cushion in front of the wood stove. Shortly they are up and asking to go out to play some more.

Then I think of the plight of those dogs that are chained 24 hours a day all by themselves. Where is the justice?

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Chaining your dog in the yard should be a rare solution for containing the animal, not the common practice.

Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week is Feb. 7 to 14. This is our opportunity to stand up for the rights of those tied and neglected dogs in our neighborhoods or where ever we might see them. They are everywhere.

The Jan. 27 Payson Roundup ran a front page story about this event. You report the chained dog, the dog receives a hand-made valentine and treat and the owner gets information about responsible pet ownership. Ann Campbell, manager of the Payson Humane Society was quoted as saying, "If they have to chain it, they should not have a dog."

Every dog deserves a fenced yard and his place as part of the family.

There are situations where someone desperately wants a dog and a fenced yard is not a possibility. That person must make the extra commitment to take that dog out for walks and to the dog park where he can run, play and socialize with other dogs. Someone in a situation like this should carefully choose the type of dog that does well in this setting, generally a small, less active breed. An abundance of love and attention can take the place of a fence in a case such as this.

There are dogs who will not stay in a fenced yard. They dig under, climb over, go around or through. These are the real challenges. I know. I have one of them. And there were times when she had to be tied, if only briefly, for her own safety. Then I put up the electric wire around my property, about a foot in from the fence, and she no longer attempts her escapes. Now I love watching her run and play with the others and she has (most of the time) forgotten about her desire to be running free. The electric wire is certainly not something I wanted. In fact, I hate it. But it works. It solves the problem and the dog no longer needs to be tied.

There is sometimes a need for a dog to be tied. These times should be brief. A dog who is tied outside for an hour on a beautiful day is not abused or neglected as long as he has water and a place off the cool ground. Then the dog is brought into the house to be with the family; he is taken for walks and given lots of love and attention. Although the tying is not ideal, it is acceptable.

The most tragic situation is where the dog is tied or in a small pen 24 hours a day without any contact with humans or other dogs.

If on top of that, he does not have adequate shelter, that is inexcusable and that dog should immediately be removed from that setting. There is no reason for that person to have a dog.

Even with adequate shelter, no dog should be kept by himself day after day. These dogs have hearts and brains and no way to use them. That is just plain awful.

Unfortunately, we have such an overabundance of dogs and cats, they are too easy to come by and for some, too easy to neglect.

Responsible pet ownership goes a long way to solving some of these problems. But the only long-term answer is reducing the supply of pups and kittens. Spaying and neutering is the only humane solution.

Millions of dogs are euthanized every year. As horrible as that is, is it not a better fate than being chained 24 hours a day alone and lonely, with absolutely nothing to brighten even an hour of the day? Day after day -- boredom, loneliness, cold, thirst -- how fair is that? How could anyone in their right mind think that is OK?

If you know of a dog who is chained all the time with no human contact and no family who cares about him, do something that just might make a difference for that dog. This is your chance to do for that dog what you do not dare to do on your own, complain to the owner.

Call toll free (877) 636-1408 and report that chained, neglected dog. They will contact that owner. You will be so glad that you took the time to do it. Do not put it off. Do it now.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1, Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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