What can I do when I see a dog constantly chained or crated?

Until new laws are passed, here are some suggestions:

  1. Get neighbors together who are concerned about the situation and as a group speak with the people who are involved in the abuse. Be as friendly as possible. We know that sometimes when people are confronted with their abusive actions they can act defensive. Try to stay friendly and calm. Learn what we’ve highlighted on our pages about why chaining and/or crating their dogs is abuse. Your knowledge and friendly manner could help them consider changing how they treat their dogs or it could help them decide to give their dogs up for adoption. If you feel threatened, leave immediately.
  2. Try giving them the letter posted on this site under Stop Dog Abuse (link here). Edit the letter to fit the situation you’re concerned about. You could also fold the letter up and put it inside a Mahalo or Thank You card and either mail it to dog abuser, leave it at their door or hand it to them.
  3. Learn what the current laws are. Call the Humane Society or the Police and state the law that is being broken. If they don’t respond or if they just do a site visit without taking action, call again and report the situation to a director or chief. Get others involved to raise awareness about the situation. Remember you are now the voice for those dogs.
  4. Give the people who are chaining or crating their dog continuously the opportunity to change their ways by offering to help them build a free pallet fence. Get the neighbors together and make it a community effort. However make them commit to house training their dogs and bringing their dogs in at night. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that describe how to build a fence from free pallets and we all know we have plenty of pallets here in Hawaii!
  5. Learn how the barking ordinances work. Again study the laws.
  6. Stay involved with our efforts to change the laws. Sign upcoming petitions and either email testimony to the legislative body about the potential new bill when asked or show up when the bill is being discussed so you can testify live about your feelings on this subject. WE NEED YOUR VOICE AND SO DO OUR DOGS!!!

Below is a great article about what to do when you are concerned about a neighbor’s dog found on http://www.chainfreeasheville.org. Although some of the information concerns only their local area and that particular non-profit, the rest of the information provides solid advice.

Are You Worried About a Neighbor’s Dog?
ChainFree Asheville
Are you concerned about a chained dog in someone else’s yard? There are many things you can do to improve that dog’s life.

The first thing to do is get acquainted with the dog’s owners. Bring a friend with you for safety reasons, and knock on the door. It is very important to be nice, friendly, and respectful to the dog’s owners. Offer a sack of dog treats as an ice-breaker.

Remember to stress that anything you offer is free. People love free stuff! Start out by politely introducing yourself.

Then say something like:

I work with dogs and your dog is so beautiful. I would love to walk him if that is OK with you? Is there anything I can do to help with your dog? You don’t have to worry about paying for anything I am just doing this because I love dogs. In other words, gain their trust so you can come back often. Once they see someone else values their dog, they may also look at their dog with different eyes.
I am a volunteer with ChainFree Asheville (use the backyard dog tips from the ChainFree Asheville website) and I came by to offer you some free resources. I live in the area and saw your dog in the backyard.
I noticed your dog lives on a chain. I’m sure he would love the chance to exercise. Could I come by a few times a week to walk your dog?
I love shepherds. My shepherd died and I really miss him. Can I go back and meet your dog? What’s his name?
If the owner seems receptive, ask if you can go with the owner to meet the dog. Ask the dog’s name, how old he/she is and how long the person has had the dog. . This will give you an opportunity to get to know the dog and the owner, and to learn why the dog is on a chain. Sometimes you can help solve the problem.

For instance, if the dog is chained so it won’t breed with another dog, tell them about the Humane Alliance (link is external), which does low-cost sterilization (link is external) for dogs (visit http://www.humanealliance.org/ (link is external))

If the dog is chained because he is a fence-jumper, offer to put up fence extensions.

If the dog is chained because the owners never really wanted the animal in the first place, offer to find the dog another home (link is external). (visit http://www.unchainyourdog.org/FindingHomes.htm (link is external))

Bring along materials for the owners to read (link is external), too.

Be Constructive, Not Critical

If the dog is too thin, infested with parasites, matted, etc–DON’T be critical of the dog’s owner. You don’t want to make him mad! Just say, “I’ve got some extra flea treatment at home I can bring over to put on Boss” or “I think Boss would look better with a few more pounds on him. How about if I bring over a free case of dog food for you?” or “I like grooming dogs. Could I come over sometime and get these mats out of Boss’s hair?”

Once you have met the owner, try to keep up a good relationship. Leave dog treats and toys on their porch. Stop by to check on the dog. Offer to take the dog on walks and to the vet.

Eventually, the owner may let you have the dog. Although some chained dogs are aggressive, others make perfectly good pets with some love and training. If the dog is relinquished to you, you can now place the dog into a good home (link is external).

(Sometimes a dog owner will sell the chained dog to you. Only do this if you think the owner won’t go right out and get another one.)

Some people steal chained dogs to provide a better life for them. The problem with that is that the owners might put a new puppy right back on the chain. And, since dogs are legally considered property, stealing a dog is a felony.

Some people chain their dogs as guard dogs. Explain that chained dogs do not make the best guard dogs. Chained dogs become aggressive, not protective. An aggressive dog will attack anyone: the child next door, the meter reader, the mailman. The way to raise a protective dog, who knows how to distinguish friend from foe, is to socialize the dog and bring him inside with the family.

Besides, what can a chained dog do to stop an intruder except bark?

You should keep two goals in mind when talking to the owner of a chained dog:

Educate the owner so that he will think of the dog in a new light; as a living creature who needs love and attention and care. Hopefully, he will learn how to treat dogs better in the future.
Helping the dog a little is better than doing nothing at all. You may not be able to convince the owner to relinquish the dog. You may not be able to convince the owner to put up a fence. Even if all you can do is get a decent doghouse, a well-fitting collar, and some toys for the dog, that is a success and the dog’s life has been improved.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has guidelines for what to do if you see a dog tied up outside.

Document everything. Write down the date, time and location of the animal and any other details that might be relevant. Take photos or videos to help paint the full picture.
Take the evidence to your local animal control agency or sheriff’s office. For your own reference, take note of whom you speak to, so that you can follow up with the complaint in a few days.
Call the agency or the sheriff’s office after you’ve issued your complaint for updates and to make sure they’ve followed up on the situation.
While it might be intimidating to contact the authorities, consider the alternative.

Another great article found on: http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_Chaining.php

Dog Tip: Helping Chained Dogs

* The Effects of Chaining and Tethering Dogs Outside
* What You Can Do to Help a Chained or Tethered Dog
* Other Important Resources and Links

Animal lovers can make a difference for the voiceless dogs who lead a lonely, painful, frightening life trapped at the end of a chain or other kind of tether. Tied to a post, stake, fence or doghouse outside, these poor dogs suffer extreme heat, cold, rain, snow storms and abject loneliness.

This tipsheet covers the dangers of tethering dogs for long periods, along with ways to discourage people from chaining their dogs and how to improve legal protection for dogs.

The Effects of Chaining and Tethering Dogs Outside:

Tethering dogs outside for long periods leads to substantial behavioral and health problems, in addition to subjecting the dogs to suffering and psychological damage. Dogs are, by nature, social animals. They were domesticated by humans for companionship. Even a friendly and gentle dog can be transformed into an anxious, troubled and aggressive animal when constantly chained.

As documented by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, “Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog’s movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog’s shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog’s movement and potentially causing injury.”

Specific problems associated with tethering dogs for long periods:

* Hyperactivity, fear biting and aggression are common problems displayed by chained dogs. By nature, a dog wants to interact with the people and animals beyond his reach. Yet by trying to engage in the normal, natural acts of running or sniffing or checking out a passerby, the confused dog gets jerked back, building frustration and anxiety. Chaining limits interaction with people to frustration, teasing and mistreatment. The dog associates the frustration and pain with the object he was lunging at.

* Research from the Centers for Disease Control shows that dogs who are tied out for long periods are several times more likely to display aggression and attack people. Young children have been seriously injured when walking up to a frustrated or startled dog trapped on a chain. A fearful dog trapped on a chain cannot flee from an approaching human, so he might attack if he perceives a threat to his body or territory. A study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that 17% of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were restrained on their owners’ property at the time of the attack. In addition, a frustrated dog who breaks loose from a chain may chase and even attack someone in his path.

* Health problems run the gamut from skin and ear damage from fly bites to parasites to severe neck gashes from collars being constantly yanked. Some dogs are seriously and even fatally wounded from collars becoming embedded in their necks upon outgrowing the neck restraint.

* A tethered dog is an easy target for other animals, insects and humans who tease, taunt, throw rocks at and otherwise torment and injure the dog. Some people even steal chained dogs for illicit and inhumane purposes.

* The chain or tie-out can become entangled with other objects, leading to neck injury and strangulation.

* Tying dogs outside is no solution to obedience training and housebreaking. A dog will never be housetrained if his owners don’t teach him. Instead, the dog will become used to relieving himself where he eats, rests, sleeps and plays, so he cannot abide by the canine instinct to eliminate away from his personal living space. Furthermore, the dog cannot escape the flies attracted to his feces, so he could be ravaged by biting insects as well as parasites.

“A chained dog’s life is a lonely, frustrating, miserable existence, without opportunities for even the most basic dog behaviors of running and sniffing in their own fenced yard. Dogs chained for even a few weeks begin to show problems,” states Jean Johnson in the article, Chaining: Cruel, Unnecessary, and Too Often Overlooked. “Chaining keeps a dog in solitary confinement, continually thwarting its pack instinct to be with other animals or with its human pack.”

What You Can Do to Help a Chained or Tethered Dog:

The following includes information from www.HelpingAnimals.com, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), www.DogsDeserveBetter.com and the April 2001 Healthy Planet article �The Violence Link� by Brenda Schoss.

1. Educate the owner.

Often, people learn cruel and neglectful behavior from parents or neighbors, and we can break the cycle of ignorance. In a non-confrontational way, let the person know specifically what the problems are and better alternatives. You can give the neighbor helpful dog care tips on websites, including:

Chaining alternatives brochure

Educational information in English and Spanish

Details about the effects of chaining

Explain that a better alternative to chaining is to keep dogs as indoor animals, and that this will result in a healthier, better behaved, better socialized and trustworthy companion. Encourage the owner to teach the dog good house manners. Until a dog can be trusted in a larger area of the home, the owner can confine the dog to a puppy-proofed room. Using a crate in the process of housetraining is also effective, but behaviorists advise not to crate a dog day after day for more than 6 hours a day. The crate is a tool for use during the housetraining process, not a substitute for teaching the dog good behavior. Teaching good behavior is the responsibility of every dog owner.

2. Check your local laws.

In most states, causing an animal unnecessary suffering is illegal, as is beating an animal and depriving him of food. However, the law usually allows people to keep dogs outdoors if certain conditions are met, such as providing shelter from rain.

Available at your local library, your state statute and county code will explain requirements and restrictions pertaining to animal owners. It is a good idea to make a photocopy to carry with you. You can also find state anti-cruelty statutes at http://www.lawsource.com and city statutes at http://www.municode.com.

You can also get facts from the Law Enforcement Training Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia. This national program educates animal cruelty investigators on state statutes, interrogation methods, rules of evidence, and courtroom testimony. Contact: National Cruelty Investigations School, Law Enforcement Training Institute, 321 Hearnes Center Columbia, MO 65211. 800-825-6505. http://www.missouri.edu/~letiwww/

3. Help the dog directly.

If the dog�s owners are not receptive to your suggestions, but the situation is not illegal, there are still ways you can help the dog. Offer to take the dog for walks. Say that you had some extra dog toys, a sturdy water bucket, running line and swivel to prevent tangling, and rather than throw them out, and that you would like their dog to have them.

Make sure the dog has shade and water in an anchored bucket or a heavy bowl. Watch for symptoms of overheating, such as restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, darkened tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting and lack of coordination. If the dog displays any of these symptoms, get him to shade immediately and call a veterinarian. To lower body temperature gradually, provide water to drink, apply a cold towel or an ice pack to the head, neck and chest, or immersing the dog in tepid (not cold) water.

Cold weather can lead to frostbite, exposure and dehydration when water sources freeze. If you cannot convince the owner to take the dog inside, you might offer to build him or her a warm, durable doghouse (however, PAW does not advocate use of dog houses). Remind the owner to increase food during winter since more calories are being burned to keep warm, and to be sure that animals are free of internal parasites, which rob them of vital nutrients.

Try to visit the dog regularly. Many dogs have had their whole lives gradually changed because of patient and friendly intervention. If you gain custody of the dog, find detailed steps to help you rehome the dog at http://www.helpinganimals.com/angel-bydpack.html

4. Get help from your local humane society or SPCA.

An investigator from your local humane society or SPCA might be able to persuade the owner to improve care of the animal. Also, humane society and SPCA personnel typically can confirm whether and how an owner might be violating the law.

5. If the uncooperative owner appears to be violating a code or law, contact your local animal control department.

It is the department�s job to take action when any law is being violated. Know your local and state codes, as discussed in part 2 above. You need to be prepared to educate law enforcers who may not be totally familiar with anti-cruelty laws. Make clear that you want action taken and will assist as needed. Be persistent; sometimes it takes several calls and follow up.

To find a Humane Law Enforcement Agency near you, check your phonebook or go to http://www.aspca.org/site/FrameSet?style=Animal

If the officers do not cooperate, present your documented case to their supervisors and, if necessary, to local government officials, such as the county commissioner, and ask them to act. If you have witnessed the cruelty, you can go to the police commissioner and swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court.

6. Gather and present evidence.

You will want to provide the law enforcement officer and other parties with a concise, written, factual statement of what you have observed.

* Gather evidence, including dates and approximate times. Photograph the situation and date photos. Try to get written statements from other witnesses. Keep copies of all documentation and photos.

* Keep a record of whom you contact, the contact dates, and the content and outcome of each discussion. Never give away a letter or document without making a copy for your file.

* Expert witnesses may be necessary to the case. A veterinarian can sign a statement that it is his or her “expert opinion” that a dog suffers if swung by a chain, deprived of food, etc. Expert opinions often make or break a case.

7. Contact the media.

If more pressure is needed, try to interest local TV and newspaper reporters in the story. Your documentation of the case will help. Encourage witnesses to step forward. News stories usually compel officials to act or prompt the person causing the abuse to stop.

8. Seek help from national specialists in animal abuse litigation.

For example, the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund works to convict animal abusers with maximum penalties. ALDF’s Zero Tolerance For Cruelty campaign supplies free legal research, amicus curiae briefs, and expert witnesses for local prosecutors. For help in supporting a case, contact Animal Legal Defense Fund, 2103 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR 97214-2814; 503-231-1602 or 800-555-6517, http://www.aldf.org

Other contacts include the PETA Domestic Animal Issues and Abuse Department, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510, 757-622-7382, info@PETA.org and the Humane Society of the United States, http://www.hsus.org/ace/13858

9. Urge local legislators to pass better animal anti-cruelty laws.

Animal welfare legislation pending in your state and how you can help

Anti-cruelty laws, legislative contact details and related information http://www.hsus.org/ace/11589

Laws, Legislation, Model Legislation, Guidance, Working with Legislators

Sample chaining ordinances

To help pass humane laws, email the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade

To help pass humane laws in Prince George�s County, contact

10. Resources to help you help dogs in need:

Downloadable “Unchain a Dog” materials


http://www.animaladvocates.com/It’sTime-research-behav.htm http://www.animaladvocates.com/It’sTime-research-physically.htm http://www.animaladvocates.com/It’sTime-research-safety.htm


Housetraining Dogs and Teaching Dogs Good House Manners: for detailed tipsheets on these and related topics, go to the Dog Tips index


For more Dog Tips and other information about pet
care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our
website at: www.paw-rescue.org

Partnership for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768