‘Have A Heart' Program Can Make A Difference

FOCUS ON PETS

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"Have a Heart for a Chained Dog Week" ended yesterday, Valentine's Day. Ten chained dogs were reported locally and each of them received valentines, treats and some information about responsible pet ownership for their owners. Wouldn't it be wonderful if those were the only chained dogs around here?

As of last Friday, 2,300 dogs were reported to the national program from all across the United States. Each of these will be receiving valentines.

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Lisa Boyle's Doggie Condo has all the comforts of home, including heat and comfortable bedding. Inside is a sign that reads, "This property is maintained for the comfort and security of our animals. If you don't like that, please go away."

The ASPCA sponsors a pet protector contest each year looking for new and innovative ways to improve the life of all animals, primarily dogs and cats. "Dogs Deserve Better: No Chains" was a recent winner of the contest. The idea was submitted by Tammy Grimes. She helps raise money to support this program through the sale of artwork. To learn more about the national program, go to www.dogsdeservebetter. org.

Lisa Boyle is coordinating the program locally. She is not shy and is committed to doing everything she can to improve the life of dogs in this area. She is against chaining dogs. However, she also knows that sometimes it is necessary. There are dogs who just will not stay within a fence, but even chained dogs can be part of the family.

Lisa realizes that many reluctantly chain their dogs but do indeed love them. These dogs receive good food, fresh water, walks and time off of the chain when they can be in the house with the family.

Although an outdoor kennel with proper housing is better than chaining, all dogs need to be part of the family and receive attention, walks, rides in the car, training and love.

If you must chain your dog, Lisa would be happy to come to your home and help you put together a proper set-up for the dog.

Lisa is also known as a "dumpster diver." She dives into any kind of trash receptacle in search of aluminum cans, which are a good source of income for the Payson Humane Society.

She is not too proud to beg or borrow, (she will not steal) to come up with inexpensive and proper ways of securing a dog. If you have to chain your dog, but want to make his life better and more comfortable, do call Lisa, (928) 474-1836. She is the kindest person in the world when she knows that you are trying to do the best you can for your pet.

There are things we can all do to make life better for these chained and unloved dogs. We need to change some laws, enforce laws and have education programs available to everyone.

Many parts of the country have laws prohibiting the chaining of dogs. Some have laws making it illegal to have an un-neutered pet if you are not a registered breeder. Prospective pet adopters need to realize that if they do not plan to have this pet be part of the family, they should not adopt.

No one should be able to adopt a large dog if they do not have a fenced yard.

The very worst situation with chained dogs is females who come in heat. They will naturally attract every un-neutered male dog around. This is just not tolerable. As much as you might try to prevent it, that dog is going to become pregnant. And what will become of those puppies? More overload at the humane society -- or worse.

If you want to help, volunteer your time. There are lots of ways you can help. Call the humane society for a variety of volunteer opportunities. The PAWS group meets the first Monday of each month, 6 p.m., at the library and discusses a variety of pet issues. Visitors are always welcome.

Do you have fencing or kennel panels which you are not using? Why not donate these to someone who would be able to unchain their dog if they had a secure kennel? A donated crate may mean that one chained dog could spend the night warm and comfortable in the house rather than out in the elements. Do you have an extra dog house? If you have any of these that you would donate, please call Lisa.

In last week's column, I mentioned about a child in Show Low who was killed by chained dogs. Terence Corrigan, editor of the White Mountain Independent in Show Low, contacted me to inform me that the dogs that killed the child in Show Low were not chained but running free. The owners had no provisions to contain their dogs. These owners are charged with murder. I apologize for the misinformation and it certainly is a horrible tragedy either way. It is the responsibility of all dog owners to provide suitable, secure quarters for their dogs for their own safety and the safety of others. People who do not have or will not provide suitable quarters for a dog should not have a dog.

There are things we can all do to improve the life of a pet. What can you do?

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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