Compassion Without Constraints


One steamy afternoon a dog was observed in a yard with no trace of hydration, food or toys in sight. This canine wasn’t lounging by his owner’s side either. This malnourished canine was tightly chained around a tree with zero mental stimulation in his presence. His family didn’t simply tie him up for a split second while doing yard work either. This neglected soul lived his entire life on a heavy truck chain. He ran endless circles around the tree he was connected to until the earth below him was practically pounded down to cement. This dog was obviously viewed as “worthless” in someone’s eyes, but he deserved a better life.

Fortunately the frightened canine was brought in to Animal Control several days later. Soon after arriving at the shelter, Moby (his new name being that the previous owners didn’t name him) underwent extensive surgery in order to remove an embedded collar from his neck.

Why am I sharing this emotional story? Well, I wanted to address the issue of chaining an animal for long periods of time, and the effect it has on an animal’s health and overall well being. The practice of “chaining” or “tethering” an animal is defined as connecting a dog to a stationary item such as a tree or fence pole for long periods of time. Dogs that are chained are typically chained outdoors in a backyard (some are even chained in basements), and the primary reason for chaining is for “protection” or inadequate fencing.

I want to make it clear though that I’m not implying that tying your dog out while outside with him or while doing gardening is neglectful. Many dogs around the U.S. live their entire lives on a short chain with little to no social interaction with humans or protection from the elements.

Chaining a dog is not only harmful to the dog itself. Chained dogs can be harmful to humans as well. A study of dog bite statistics completed in 1991 (Denver) found that chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite than unchained dogs (Animal Sheltering, 2009). How is that possible? The answer is that dogs are naturally territorial and more likely to defend their restricted turf from perceived incoming threats. The natural fight-or-flight instinct is completely eliminated when a dog is confined to a chain. For example, when a child approaches or teases a dog on a chain, the dog is unable to flee the area. The only other option the dog has is to fight back when the child approaches.

“The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that 17 percent of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were restrained on their owner’s property at the time of the attack, and the book ‘Fatal Dog Attacks’ states that 25 percent of fatal attacks were inflicted by chained dogs of many different breeds (”

While working at another shelter, I asked many people why they permanently chained up their dog. People’s answers were quite similar across the board. Many people thought that the ingrained “idea” of having a chained dog resulted in protection from intruders. Ironically, a dog would be more protection while living within the household, though. Chained dogs are likely to exhibit neurotic behavior, bark frequently and develop aggressive behavior.

Fortunately there are now alternatives for chaining dogs. Many people fear that leaving their dog alone in the house will result in the dog destroying the house. A resolution to this problem is crate training. With proper exercise and mentally stimulating toys while in the crate, your canine will be content and safe while in his crate. The moral of the article is that chaining a dog is harmful to both the dog himself and to humans in the surrounding area. Kids are likely to approach a chained dog resulting in a potentially dangerous situation.

The dog’s story I mentioned earlier in this article is unfortunately not unique. He lived a painful life on a chain, but he was fortunately brought into a shelter and later adopted. Moby now spends his time with a family on the east coast. He spends his time lounging in the house or playing with his new canine brother. I hope Moby’s story along with the information presented in this article will change at least one dog’s life and free him from a life on a chain.

This is the final week of the Lucky Paws Adoption Special at the Humane Society of Central Arizona. Choose one of our wonderful, adoptable pets, then draw from our “Pot of Gold” to determine your adoption fee. Lucky adopters will get their pet at a reduced rate or maybe even for free! The shelter is located at 812 S. McLane Road and open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All adoptable pets are spayed or neutered and current on vaccinations




Lola is a 3-year-old spayed female shepherd mix. This poor gal is mourning the death of her owner. She has really pulled through, though, and quickly became a staff favorite due to her lovable personality. Lola is good with other dogs, too.




Scarlett is an 11-month-old spayed female beagle/fox terrier mix. Scarlett came in with Lola and also misses her owner, but Scarlett is an outgoing pooch who attaches herself quickly to new people.




Zoey is a 2-year-old spayed female blue heeler mix. Zoey must have been trying to find a party to go to because she was running the streets looking for people to hang out with. This dog is stunning.




Stevye is a 6-year-old spayed female shepherd mix. Her owner could no longer care for her and she was surrendered to the shelter. She quickly won our hearts over. She has been to several adoption events and did great. Her spunky personality will keep you entertained. Total goober!




Tigger is a 6-month-old neutered male Shar Pei/Catahoula mix. Tigger came into the shelter absolutely petrified. He has totally changed and has become a party animal. He loves his harness and going for walks.




Noah is a 1-year-old neutered male Staffordshire terrier mix. This jolly pooch is happy to see everyone! He is lovable, cuddly and good with other dogs. I have never seen a dog that loves to play fetch as much as Noah does. He would be great at fly-ball too! He is my favorite dog at the shelter right now! Noah was found as a stray.


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