The Payson Humane Society is encouraging Rim country residents to participate in a program that sends Valentines to chained and penned dogs.
Dogs Deserve Better is holding its second annual national Valentine campaign in conjunction with Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week, Feb. 7-14.
"If you have a chained up dog up the road or something like that they will send that dog a Valentine," PHS board member Lisa Boyle said. "I have a chained dog in my neighborhood, and if you've ever had to watch that, you know it's not pleasant for the animal."
The Valentines are hand-made by school children in six different states and come complete with a treat for the dog. Also included is information about the responsibilities of pet ownership for the dog's caretaker.
"We believe that the handmade Valentines by school children may do a lot to soften hearts and make people see their pets with new eyes," Dogs Deserve Better national founder Tammy Grimes said. "This is our best effort to make that happen for many dogs across the country. If concerned citizens will send us the addresses where dogs are chained or penned, we will try to change the lives of those animals for the better."
Ann Campbell, manager of the Payson Humane Society, said there is no excuse for chaining a dog.
"If they have to chain it, they shouldn't have a dog in the first place," she said. "If it's because the dog jumps, they need a higher fence."
Jackie Fodor, a kindergarten teacher in West Virginia, was the first to volunteer her class to make Valentines for chained dogs.
"Our school is spending a lot of time on character education, and I thought this went well with the ‘Responsibility' pillar," Fodor said.
Now the entire school participates in the project and will contribute 300 Valentines this year. Schools in Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin and Ohio are also making Valentines.
The goal this year is to send 2,000 Valentines to chained and penned dogs.
Dogs Deserve Better was the 2003 first prize winner in the Pet Protector Award competition held by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
For more information or to have a Valentine sent to a chained or penned dog in your neighborhood, go to www.dogsdeservebetter.com or call toll-free (877) 636-1408.
Contributions and sponsorships to support the program are also needed.