It's a Chained Dog's Life, and It's Not A Good One
July 6, 2003
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
 Editorial By: Emily Pennel

Most of us have seen them: dogs who live at the end of a chain, day after day, month after month, year after year. In the summer they lie panting in the hot sun, scratching at the many fleas running over their skin. In the winter they huddle in the corner of dilapidated doghouses, with no blankets or hay to keep them warm. They never get the chance to run around and play. No one scratches them on the head or takes them for walks. Children throw rocks at them and tease them. Their collars become too tight as they grow. They get entangled in bushes and trees. The life of a chained dog is a life of deprivation and loneliness.

Dogs are pack animals. They are genetically wired to eat, sleep, hunt, and play in a pack. In the absence of other dogs, a dog?s human family becomes his pack. It is cruel to keep a highly social animal isolated in the backyard with no interaction or socialization.

Why would someone get a dog, only to leave him languishing at the end of a chain? Some people chain their dogs because they don?t have a fence, and they don?t want the dog to escape. Some people end up with a dog they never wanted, so they toss him out on a chain. Many people consider their chained dogs as ?guard dogs.? This doesn?t make sense, because a chained dog can?t do anything to stop an intruder. All a chained dog can do is bark! And most chained dogs bark so often?because they are hungry, thirsty, bored, or lonely?that people cease paying attention when the dog barks. What is the dog supposed to be protecting? The yard?

The best guard dogs are those who are allowed inside the house, and who receive daily love and attention. We have all heard stories of house dogs who save their families from intruders, fires, and even gas leaks. K9 police dogs, the best guard dogs around, are brought home every night to live with the police officer and his or her family. An inside dog has the freedom and desire to protect his family, while a chained dog can only watch as a tragedy takes place inside.

People who mistreat and chain their dogs to make them ?good guard dogs? are making a big mistake. Mistreated, chained dogs simply become aggressive, not protective. Protective dogs are well-socialized and accustomed to meeting lots of people. A protective dog uses his intuition, and his guardian?s body language and tone of voice, to distinguish an intruder from a family friend. Aggressive dogs don?t distinguish between friend and foe. An aggressive dog will attack anyone?a child, a meter reader, the mail carrier, or the family cat.

Chained dogs are very likely to become aggressive. When a chained dog feels threatened and his ?fight or flight? instinct kicks in, the dog can?t flee. So he is forced to fight. Over time, chained dogs tend to become very territorial of their little patch of earth. When an aggressive and territorial dog escapes, he is a real danger to the community. Especially since most backyard dogs are not vaccinated for rabies or other diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite than unchained dogs. In 2003, a two-year-old Ohio girl had half her scalp peeled away when she approached a chained German shepherd, a young Illinois man was sent to the hospital for weeks when a chained pit bull broke his tether and attacked, and an Orlando child had his ear ripped off when a mixed-breed dog escaped his chain and attacked on a school playground. The guardians of all three of these dogs were sued for damages.

It is clear that keeping dogs continuously chained is inhumane to the dog and dangerous to the community. In a growing number of cities, such as Maumelle, AR, New Orleans, LA and Tucson, AZ, it is illegal to leave dogs on chains. Because chaining is legal in Little Rock, it is up to citizens to help. If you are concerned about a chained dog, there are many things you can do to improve his life. I have found that most dog guardians are willing to do the right thing and to accept help from concerned neighbors. Encourage the guardians to housetrain the dog and bring him inside. Housetraining tips can be found online and in libraries and bookstores. Dog obedience classes are fun for the dog and the guardian, and they are inexpensive at local pet stores.

Offer to help build a fence. Fencing can be affordable if you set wooden posts and staple inexpensive fencing to it. If a fence isn?t possible, install a trolley for the dog to run on. If the dog is a fence jumper, add fence extensions or an electric fence to the top of the fence. If the dog is a digger, you can bury chicken wire underneath the fence, or line it with heavy rocks.

Spaying and neutering won?t change a dog?s personality, but it will help a dog to calm down and stop trying to escape. Sterilizing your dog will also counteract Little Rock?s serious pet overpopulation problem. You can call the local non-profit organization CARE at 603-CARE to find out about free or low-cost sterilization.

Replace old, ill-fitting collars with new nylon ones. Take the dog on walks! If the dog isn?t yours, offer to take the dog on walks anyway. Walks are a great way to socialize a dog and also give him some freedom and exercise. Fill a baby pool with water for the dog to splash in during summer. Dog toys and rawhides give a chained dog hours of entertainment. Pack doghouses with hay in winter to help the dog stay warm. Replace drafty doghouses with dog igloos, which are pretty cheap at discount stores and farm supply stores.

Some people may be willing to relinquish their chained dog to a concerned neighbor or to animal control, especially if they never wanted the dog in the first place. If a dog is seriously underweight, sick, or abused, you should report the situation to your local humane society, municipal animal control, or police department. Arkansas has a state law regarding animal cruelty. Reports can be made anonymously.

Finally, educate people about chaining. You can download informational brochures and find other tips for helping chained dogs on my Web site:

Humans have many things to occupy our time. We have work, school, church, shopping, going places, watching TV, spending time with friends. Dogs don?t have anything but us. Dogs depend on their humans for everything: food, water, grooming, exercise, medical care, companionship, and love. If someone can?t provide their faithful canine companion with these basic needs, that person simply should not have a dog. Dogs deserve more than life in prison, with no hope of parole.


Dogs Need Time Off the Chain to Learn Good Behavior With Permission from Dr. Marty Becker

Every time I drive the 16 miles from my ranch to my hometown in northern Idaho, I pass dogs that are chained to a tree, to a doghouse or to a stake driven into the ground. Make no mistake. These aren't loving, responsible pet owners who temporarily secure their outdoor dogs to make sure the animals are safe at night or when unsupervised. These pets are imprisoned within the chain's radius, 24/7/365. In the six years I've lived here, I've never seen them run free.

Sadly, millions of other pets across the country share their fate. I always feel sadness for the dogs' plight. I also feel frustration at their caretakers' lack of understanding that chaining a dog all the time can have serious consequences for the pet and its guardian.

Experts agree that chaining increases aggression in some dogs. "Rather than protecting the owner or property, a chained dog is often fearful for itself, particularly poorly socialized dogs or those with a previous negative experience," says Rolan Tripp, affiliate professor of animal behavior at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University. "When tethered and exposed to a potentially threatening stimulus, one thing the dog definitely knows is, `I can't get away.' In that circumstance, a reasonable response might be, `Therefore I'm going to try and scare you away by growling or, worse yet, biting.' "

Myrna Milani, a veterinary ethologist and author of several books on animal behavior, agrees. "I specifically see increased aggression when a dog feels responsible for protecting the owner and that person's belongings," she says. "Under those circumstances, restraint of any kind makes it impossible for the dog to freely explore any perceived threat to determine whether it poses any danger or get away from it if it does."

Adding to this chorus is veterinarian Elizabeth Shull, president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. "In addition to frustration, the constant physical restraint promotes excessive territoriality, which may be manifested as aggression. These attacks are completely unnecessary as they are easily preventable by using a secure fence for containment," Shull says. This leaves the dog with the option of making a lot of noise (barking its head off!) and looking as scary as possible (lips curled, teeth showing, coat fluffed) in hopes of frightening the perceived threat, or to bite when that threat gets too close. Thus, too often, biting becomes the chosen response when a bark would have done. Sadly, the person on the other end of the teeth is often a child, a delivery person or another dog that just wanted to play.

Dog bite statistics show that children are the most common victims. This then becomes a tragedy for all involved: the victim, the dog and the owner who is now liable for injuries that could have been avoided. "Another thing to consider is that dogs are social animals," says Janice Willard, veterinary ethologist from Moscow, Idaho. "They need to have company to live normal, healthy lives. Most dogs live in a human family that fills their biological need for companionship. But a chained, solitary dog is in the worst of circumstances. Not only are they starved for social contact, but often they have poor social skills from lack of experience. And they often live in a state of sensory deprivation. Their environment is barren, and they have nothing to explore or play with. They have nothing to do but pace the tiny space allotted to them. Or they become frustrated by the tantalizing world just out of their reach, increasing their anxiety and agitation."

The worst punishment for people in prison is solitary confinement, while the military uses the silent treatment as a nonviolent but highly effective means of reprimand. But these are only temporary measures; a dog may be committed to the same treatment for most of its life. What crimes did these dogs commit to deserve such a fate? If you need to secure your dog, get a big fence. If you need a security system, install an electronic one. If you want a dog but aren't willing to love it and consider its needs, get a stuffed one. Chaining a dog all the time is no way to treat a thinking, breathing, trusting, loving creature.

Man's Best Friend A Victim By Tom Hennessy

August 26, 2004, LONG BEACH, CA--It barked day and night, in sunshine and in rain. It barked when cars went by or when the street was deserted. It barked 24/7. When we moved away, the dog was still barking. But since it did so behind the wooden gate of a house across the street, we never saw the pooch. It would be inaccurate to say we fled Cerritos years ago to escape that dog, but leaving the pooch sure was a bonus. The dog was never walked, as far as we could tell. Nor was it ever allowed in our neighbor's house. What was the point, we wondered, of having a dog under such circumstances.

I remembered that pooch last week when a letter came from a friend, Miriam Yarden, aka Dog's Best Friend. One of the founders of the Long Beach Dog Park, Yarden specializes in dog behavior. The subject of her letter: barking dogs ignored by owners. "You see him in every community," she said, "a dog relegated to the yard, porch or outdoor run; in effect, abandoned emotionally and socially. He is fed outside, and on a hot day he may have finished his water, and his bowl is empty for hours. In winter and rain, he shivers. In summers, he languishes from the heat. All year round, he suffers."

At the dawn of time, she notes, man and dog were partners. Man shared his food and dry quarters and brought the dog into his "pack' the family. But you do not have to go far in most neighborhoods today to find humans who have abandoned the partnership, but still insist on having dogs. In such cases, says Yarden, the dog can go in one of two directions. "He may become listless, lethargic and emotionally deprived. Or he may become hyperactive, fearful, noisy and aggressive even vicious."

As for providing protection, Yarden dismisses the notion. "Dogs do not protect back yards. They may bark at people, cats, other dogs, birds, butterflies or falling leaves, but this is not protective behavior. This is boredom, and an intruder can easily override it with an offering of food or friendship. However, if the dog has free access to the inside via a dog door, he will protect the house because it is his den as well. Such dogs are the best and most reliable protectors. At the same time, they are also protected from the elements, abusive strangers, dog-nappers and poison."

Issue in L.A. Yarden's timing coincides with that of the Los Angeles City Council. It voted last week to draft an ordinance that would ban the practice of permanently chaining dogs in yards. (No, I don't know if the Cerritos dog was chained.) The impending crackdown has the support of organizations such as the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association, whose president, Robert Goldman, has been quoted as saying, "These are the dogs that bite. When someone ties a dog to a chain in their yard, you've got a dog that is a time bomb."

Other cities, such as New Orleans and Washington, D.C., have enacted such laws. Los Angeles would be the first in California to do so. And if L.A. passes the law, can Long Beach be far behind? Well, yes. Our own City Council is not famous for jumping on the bandwagon of progressive legislation. But then, there is always the possibility that a person with a backyard dog, a 24/7 barker, may move next door to a council member.

Life at the End of a Chain By Judith Fish, M.S.W.

Thousands of dogs in South Florida and throughout the country are sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility for parole. These dogs have done nothing wrong and have never committed a crime. Yet they're subjected to a punishment worse than death - life at the end of a chain. Many of these dogs are chained up 24/7 and some remain incarcerated like this for their entire lives. Most of these dogs have never been for a walk nor played a game of fetch. They have never enjoyed a ride in a car, and have never known a moment of love.

Dogs are pack animals and possess a strong need for social interaction. The cruelest thing you can do to a dog is to force him into solitary confinement. I find it difficult to comprehend why anyone would acquire a dog and then choose to ignore the animal for the rest of his life. You would not banish your human family member to the backyard or the garage for life, so why would you do this to your canine family member. Dogs are members of the family, too, and in some cases they are the nicest ones. Dogs are loyal, patient, affectionate and sensitive. They are non-judgmental and provide unconditional love, something most humans are unable to do. They are always there for you, yet millions of American families are not always there for them. Dogs do so many things for humans. They rescue them in disasters; they sniff for bombs, so humans will be safe. They lead the blind, assist the police and help heal the sick. It is time we help them!

Animals experience the same feelings that humans do such as pain, fear, joy and sadness. Dogs chained for extended periods of time suffer from immense psychological damage. Some bark incessantly out of frustration, loneliness and boredom. Others become depressed, sad or withdrawn. And many develop aggressive behavior.

According to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association many fatal attacks and numerous dog bites involve animals who have been restrained. The Humane Society of the United States reports that dogs forced to live on a chain are defenseless against other animals that enter their territory. They are often subjected to harassment and teasing from insensitive humans and they are easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for medical research. Further, many tethered dogs often strangle to death on their chains and others have been found with chains embedded in their necks, as a result of years of neglect.

Aside from the severe emotional and social deprivation these animals experience, they also suffer from exposure to extreme temperatures, medical neglect, dehydration, and parasite infestation. Many dogs are forced to eat, sleep and deposit their own waste in a single confined area. In addition, some chained dogs are used for dog fighting, an activity usually associated with other criminal behavior. And contrary to popular opinion, chained dogs do not make good watchdogs. Dogs instinctively protect their own territory, which in this case, is their yard, not the house where they are never invited.

Chaining a dog 24 hours a day is simply cruel and barbaric. It is unacceptable treatment for man's (and woman's) best friend and it should be abolished. Thankfully at least 25 communities have recently passed laws that restrict or prohibit the practice of tethering animals, including Okaloosa County, Florida. Dennis Fetko, Ph.D., summed up the situation best when he said, " An outside dog has an address, not a home."

It is time for all of us to take action to help our best friends so they don't have to live their entire lives at the end of a chain. Encourage your neighbors to bring their family member inside. Offer to take their dog for a walk. Educate them about the animal's needs and about the dangers of keeping a tethered dog. And check and make sure their dog has ready access to food, shelter and water. If they are not providing these basics, then call the local police or animal control. And consider approaching your local legislators about enacting a law in your community that prohibits this barbaric practice.

Man's Best Friend Dogs Often Care for Humans Better than Humans Care for Dogs By Joel Freedman, Citizen Columnist

October 11, 2003 -- During bitter cold weather, the humane society in my community received complaints about an old, gentle dog, chained outdoors day and night, who was trying desperately and unsuccessfully to burrow into the frozen ground to escape the brutal wind chill. The dog cried in anguish and frustration. His paws were bloodied from his efforts. His only "shelter" was a small plastic pet carrier, the floor of which was covered by ice.

The Humane Society intervened, but this is no isolated situation. I have received expressions of concern for the many dogs in Henderson County that are forced to spend much or all their lives outdoors, in all kinds of weather, chained to a pole or to a doghouse that may provide inadequate shelter. Even if the shelter is adequate, the life of a chained or otherwise isolated dog is lonely, unhappy and spirit-breaking.

The Vietnam Dog Handlers Association says that during the Vietnam War, dogs, hundreds of whom were killed in action, prevented an estimated 10,000 American casualties. At the National Infantry Museum of Fort Benning, Ga., a monument depicts a combat-attired soldier with a dog at his side. An inscription reads, "They protected us on the field of battle. They watch over out eternal rest. We are grateful."

Dogs saved some human lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and later worked themselves to exhaustion, despite smoke and dust inhalation, in recovery efforts there. Dogs are currently assisting American military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq. In my locality this summer, a dog adopted from an animal shelter helped save her human from a fire that destroyed their home. Zoey, a 4-year-old Akita, alerted the family to the fire and dragged the family's disabled daughter out of the burning house.

People in Henderson County who chain and isolate their dogs deprive themselves of the love dogs offer. Eight years ago, I adopted a frisky, black Labrador retriever puppy from an animal shelter. Athena is a sweet dog who loves being petted and hugged. She greets me with her tail wagging, her eyes all devotion. Athena enjoys running with me and fetching baseballs I toss. And when I have a bad day, Athena snuggles up to me and comforts me.

Dogs, are indeed "man's best friend," deserving of a place in our hearts and INSIDE our homes.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Freedman chairs the public education committee of Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate New York.

A Daily Reality By Cherine Bissinger

As I wake up cozy and warm on this bitterly cold December morning, I find myself anguishing over the same thoughts once again. Since the weather turned to subzero temperatures, I cannot eliminate the overwhelming feelings of empathy and desperation for the countless animals forced to endure a torturous existence by the hands of cruel, sadistic "owners" who willfully neglect their basic physiological and psychological needs. I wish I didn't care as much as I do because life for me would be far more enjoyable living ignorantly and blissfully. But alas, I am surrounded on a daily basis by selfish individuals who take care of themselves without ever extending an act of kindness towards other living, breathing creatures.

Whilst preparing my breakfast, I glance over and admire my two glorious dogs snoring on the couch, and I tiptoe over to give them a kiss without disrupting their peaceful sleep. Their coats are shiny, bellies well nourished, bodies warm and spirits filled with a joie de vivre. This is how pets should exist in our world. I feel lucky to have them, and I cherish their presence.

Driving to work, I recall the most influential narrative concerning the treatment of animals to have ever been relayed over the radio. Listening to my favourite local station, I became profoundly moved by a story entitled "How Could You?" by author Jim Willis. I sobbed inconsolably as the on-air radio personality struggled his way through the powerful words. This time, I quickly push the memory to the back of my mind in order not to arrive to work crying. I suddenly shudder from the cold air absorbing deep in my bones and crippling my extremities, so I immediately turn up the heat in my car. How fortunate to have instantaneous relief. I gaze out the window at the barren countryside and become stricken with disbelief at the never ending sight of helpless farm animals wandering aimlessly without any visible shelter. Goats, cows and horses standing in complete abandonment. I look at my watch and notice that it's only 6 a.m. Have these animals been enduring this frigid climate all night? As I pass one farm, I glare at a frighteningly dilapidated barn house with apparent movement inside. Surely there aren't animals inside this exposed shack? It seems that no matter where I look, animals would appear. Stray cats running across the road, dogs chained to tiny wooden huts in already fenced-in yards. "What is the matter with people," I think to myself. "How can they sleep at night with the knowledge that animals in their possession are suffering?" It's beyond comprehension.

Arriving into town, I drive around the neighbourhood and remark the same observations: a total disregard for decency and blatant lack of compassion for animal welfare on one of the coldest days this year. As I park my car at my place of work, my attention is drawn over to the left at the sight of a dog wagging his tail. The sun has not yet risen, and the home attached to the enclosed yard housing the dog is unlit. My heart sinks with the insight that this innocent dog has spent the night outside in the blustery wind and arctic temperatures, all the while his human counterparts slept contently indoors, snuggled comfortably in their beds, without once considering the painful effects of such inhumanity on their loving dog who craves nothing more than a kind hand and companionship. I walk over to the dog and perceive that he is, of course, tied to a dog house. Perhaps the owners realize that the life they're providing for their pet is so unbearable that given a chance, the dog would rather jump the fence and become homeless than be treated as an inanimate lawn fixture. The closer I get to the fence, the more excited the furry tail becomes. From a few feet away, I witness the look of anticipation on his face. I know he's hoping that someone has finally come to take him away from this misery. He jumps up and barely places his front paws on the fence; as much as the length of the chain will permit. He is shivering wildly and is cold to the touch. Tiny icicles have formed around his whiskers. A backyard light from the neighbour's house provides sufficient luminescence for me to view the dog's stainless steel bowl filled solid with ice. The inside of his dog house is covered with snow. The yard has never been shoveled. Children's toys are scattered throughout the yard. "Great," I think to myself. " They're also teaching children by example."

My sadness turns to rage. How could they do that! Why do such heartless people own animals? Pets or farm animals, there is no excuse for this merciless neglect and intentional maltreatment. As the glacial wind howls in the moonlight, my ears feel like pins and needles. I begin to whisper words of comfort to the dog. I tell him how much I love him and express my sorrow for his predicament. My tears of rage turn to ice, similar to the feelings of animosity I maintain towards the dog's owners. With a gentle pat on his head, I regretfully turn to walk inside my workplace with innumerable thoughts whirling in my mind. Each step I take away from the dog, I imagine his desolate look of devastation for having been forgotten and ignored. The heartbreaking image consumes me as I initiate my first plan of action and contact the humane society to rescue this pup.

As my core body temperature warms up, I identify with the thousands of animals suffering in silence. Life is unjust. A coworker spots me from a distance and quickly comments on my visible air of distress. I recount the events of my morning arrival, and I watch his face turn pale. The familiar look of another animal lover. He assures me that he will keep an eye on the fenced dog to make certain the canine is taken away from the home. Within the hour, the humane society arrives and removes the dog. I follow up by telephone and am told that the dog will eventually be placed for adoption. I find myself relieved to have been able to help one animal, but what about the myriad of others? Like chained animals, I feel as though my hands are tied by feeble anti-cruelty laws and public apathy. As human beings, our conscience implores us to assist animals that are physically abused and emotionally denied by altering public perception and strengthening animal welfare bylaws. My purpose for channeling these thoughts into writing is to avenge such inexcusable affliction with the commanding honesty of words by advocating on behalf of those unable to communicate in a language recognizable by people, with the greater goal that more individuals extend their humanity to animals.

This article was reprinted with the permission of the author. Cherine Bissenger is a teacher in Canada who has been published in her local newspapers on animal issues. To contact Cherine, please email:

Say Good-bye to the Backyard Dog!

December 29, 2004, ENGLEWOOD, FLORIDA--With so many dogs being introduced into new homes these days, let's clear up some common misconceptions. Perhaps the most widely held misconception is the belief that dogs will be healthy and happy living in the backyard. Nothing could be further from the truth .

Current studies prove that dogs isolated in backyards are prone to develop behavioral problems.

What you need to know:

Dogs are pack animals, they love companionship. Dogs are social creatures, in fact, more social than humans. They need to be part of human families. Denied access to human living space can result in behavioral and medical problems. Once you take responsibility for a dog, you are now the dog's pack, and he wants to be with his pack. He wants to be with you. Forcing a dog to live outside with little or no human companionship is one of the most psychologically damaging things a pet owner can do.

Dogs like a safe and secure place to sleep and hang out - like your home. Your dog has the ability to learn and therefore to be housetrained. A dog that lives more in your house than in the yard is a happier, more content animal because of the security and because of your companionship.

Backyard dogs develop behavior problems.

Your dog's instincts tell him it is not good to be left alone or isolated from his pack. As a result, outdoor dogs can become stressed or anxious. A dog exhibits stress by digging, barking, howling or whining, chewing, escaping and hyperactivity. These problems can cause your neighbors to complain about barking, property destruction or your dog escaping.

Backyard dogs are hard to train. Without a strong bond with your family, a backyard dog is harder to train than a dog allowed to belong in your family. He is less responsive to commands because he is not emotionally attached to you and your family.

Backyard dogs make poor guard dogs. A dog becomes naturally protective over his territory, and he will only defend the place he lives in. If he is never allowed in the house, he will not develop a sense of territory and the house will not be a place to protect.

It is not uncommon to hear stories of homes being robbed while the backyard dog snoozed, or failed to raise an alarm through the whole episode.

Backyard dogs are less likely to be rehomed. Backyard dogs are more often given up than house dogs because they were never looked upon as family by their human pack. Sadly, that means they are easier to dispose of. Since backyard dogs do not have the opportunity to become socialized to people and other dogs, they often become so fearful or vicious that they cannot be rehomed.

What you can do:

Let your dog live with you! At a minimum, your dog should have access to your home whenever you are there, including sleeping inside at night. You do not have to spend every waking moment actively interacting with your dog; just co-existing is critical to his mental well-being.

Never tie or chain up your dog. Dogs that are tied or chained outside suffer frustration resulting in hyperactivity and/or aggression towards you, your family or friends. Dogs that are tied cannot protect themselves from predators. They can easily become entangled and do harm to themselves. If you must keep your dog outside, provide a secure high fence or an enclosed dog run with a top for those jumpers. Provide shade, protection from rain, toys to chew on and fresh water. A dog should be exercised before being left for the day in any enclosed area.

Consider how much time you can devote to your dog. People who keep their dogs outside rationalize it, saying they do spend time with their dogs (feeding doesn't count). Spending an hour a day with your dog is simply not enough for his mental welfare. Making the backyard your dog's only home does not make him a part of the family.

Outdoor living. People used to spend a lot of time in the yard; gardening, playing or socializing. Now with televisions, computers, hectic schedules and Florida heat, we actually spend 75 percent less time outdoors and therefore less time with our best friend, the dog.

Train your dog! Take your dog to training classes. This allows you to develop better communication skills and teach him how to act appropriately in the house. Don't wait until he has acquired a taste for destructive behavior. If you acquire an older dog, training him as soon as possible will help him adjust to his new "pack and den".

Give your dog a chance to be your best friend! Don't kick him out because you think he is untrainable. Instead, take the time to make him a part of your family, a part of your pack.

Start 2005 right! Share your house, your home and your heart with a dog and make him a Friend for Life!

Debra Parsons-Drake is executive director of the Suncoast Humane Society Inc., 6781 San Casa Drive, Englewood, and may be reached at (941) 474-7884 and by fax at (941) 475-3877.

Outside Dogs By Dennis Fetko, Ph.D. Reprinted from August 1995 issue of Whiskers & Wags, the Halifax Humane Society Newsletter.

I'm familiar with hundreds of dog breeds, but what's an outside dog? Unless you're medically intolerant of the dog (and therefore can't take care of him in a medical emergency, so you shouldn't have the dog anyway), making a dog stay outside is a costly waste. If he's for protection, what do you think I want to steal - your lawn? When you leave, do you put your valuables and your kids out in your yard? Just what is the dog protecting out there? Most dogs kept outside cause far more nuisance complaints from barking and escaping than any deterrent to intrusion. Such complaints cause teasing, antagonism, release and poisoning. With your dog a helpless victim, it's no laughing matter.

If I'm a crook and your dog is out, your fence protects ME, not your possessions or your dog. If I just open the gate, 9 out of 10 dogs will run off! I can safely shoot, stab, spear, poison, snare, strangle them, or dart through the fence and you just lost your dog AND everything I steal!

If he's tied up and I keep out of reach, he's useless. He'll bark, but outside dogs bark so much, they're usually ignored. But let a dog hit the other side of a door or window I'm breaking into, and I'm GONE! I can't hurt the dog until he can hurt me, and nothing you own is worth my arm. Deterrence is effective protection.

Protection and aggression are not the same. Protection is defensive, reactive, often passive, and threatens or injures no one. Aggression is active, harmful and offensive, threatens all and benefits none. Yard dogs often develop far more aggression than protectivity because everyone who passes by or enters has already violated the territory that dog has marked dozens of times a day for years. That's not protection, it's not desirable and it overlooks two facts of life today:

First, property owners have implied social contracts with others in the community. Letter carriers, paper boys, delivery people, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, meter readers and others are allowed near and at times on your property without your specific permission. And sure that ten-year-old was not supposed to jump your fence after his Frisbee; but neither you nor your dog are allowed to cause him injury if he does. Imagine this: A neighbor looks into your yard or window and sees you, your wife or child laying on the floor in a pool of blood. They call 9-1-1 and your dog prevents paramedics from assisting! Should they shoot your dog or just let you die?

Great choice.

Second, even if the intruder is a criminal, few places allow you or your dog to cause physical injury to prevent property loss. Convicted felons have sued the dog's owner from jail and won more in the suit than they ever could have stolen!

Appalling? True.

And don't be foolish enough to believe your homeowner's insurance will cover the loss. Now you see why many feel that an outside dog is a no-brainer.

The more a dog is outdoors, the less behavioral control you have. It's easier to solve four or five indoor problems than one outdoor problem. The reason is valid and simple: The more you control the stimuli that reaches your dog, the more you control the responses. You've got a lot more control over your living room than you do over your entire county! When your dog is bored, but teased by every dog, cat, bird, squirrel, motorcycle, paperboy, airplane, firecracker and backfiring truck in the county, OF COURSE he'll dig, chew, and bark.

Would you sit still all day everyday? Do you want unnecessary medical and parasite fees, especially as the dog ages?

When a dog is alone indoors, you are still 30% there because your scent and things he associates with you, constantly remind the dog of you and your training. When he's out, your dog is alone whether you're home or not. Do you really expect him to keep YOU in mind while the entire world teases, distracts and stimulates him?

The media is full of stories about the family dog saving everyone's life during a fire. How many people, including children, would be dead today if those dogs were kept outside? SURE - you ALWAYS get up to investigate every time your yard dog barks. And I've got this bridge.

An outdoor dog has an address, not a home. Dogs offer real value as companion animals. Stop behavior problems and start enjoying real protection and companionship. Bring your dogs inside.

Dennis Fetko, Ph.D.

Learn To Step Up By Maleah Stringer

December 24, 2004, ANDERSON, INDIANA-- When it comes to getting involved in problematic or potentially conflictual social issues, many members of our society suddenly become deaf, dumb and blind. Most people simply don?t want to get involved because of the repercussions it might have on their own lives. They cite many different reasons for this but oftentimes they simply don?t realize that they can do anything to make a difference.

The apathetic members of our society leave it to others or organizations who deal specifically with these issues to make the problems either go away or hide them so they don?t have to see them. And it?s true that when anyone reports violence or abuse of any kind they usually have to get somewhat involved.

But to be honest, our social and legal systems sometimes seem to impede the resolution of abuse issues. This is especially true concerning domestic violence or animal abuse. Oftentimes any agency you contact instructs you to call someone else who in turns tells you to contact the very ones who told you to call them. It?s very disheartening and maddening to attempt to do the right thing, invest your time and have no positive outcome. When this happens time after time many people get fed up and stop trying.

But sometimes with a little creative thinking and some courage you can make a difference. Ann did for two dogs in Alexandria. Both dogs were staked outside; one had shelter one did not. She knew that confronting the owners about the plight of their dogs could be potentially volatile if she didn?t handle it correctly. If she did nothing, one or both of these dogs could die this winter when the temperatures dropped below zero. For Ann, doing nothing was not an option.

She bought a dog house and bales of hay. She went to the house and told the owner that she?d noticed that her dog didn?t have a house so she had brought an extra dog house that she no longer used in case she might want it. In this case the owner of the dogs was grateful and surprised to have the help. Ann told them Merry Christmas. Everyone was happy; the dogs had shelter, the owners received a random act of kindness and Ann could stop worrying about the dogs. (Please be aware that this kind of intervention does not always have a happy ending. Some people do not welcome the interference.)

I wonder how many animal lovers saw those dogs on a daily basis and chose not to do anything because they didn?t know how, didn?t think there was anything for them to do or didn?t want to get involved?

There are situations just like this all over this county and every other county in America. It doesn?t take a group or organization to do what Ann did. If more people made the decision to take this kind of responsibility there would be less abuse.

Things you can do when you see an animal in need:

Ask the owner if he needs help.

Buy a dog house, food, etc., and present it as a gift. Don?t accuse or humiliate the owner. Keep in mind the primary goal is to help the animal.

Ask an owner if he needs help getting his animals spayed/neutered.

If you see animal abuse or neglect call the Anderson Animal Shelter or the Sheriff?s Department. Don?t expect someone else to do it. By the time someone might take the initiative, the animals could be dead.

Always take someone with you; never approach someone who you think might be an abuser. If you sense it?s dangerous it probably is ? call the police.

This isn?t just about animals being abused or neglected. There are many children in our community who could benefit from a mentoring program or maybe just a little positive attention to get them headed in the right direction.

If you know of someone who is elderly and alone you might ask if there is anything you can do for them. An act of kindness costs nothing, yet it can have the power to change someone?s life for the better.

Maleah Stringer, president of the Animal Protection League, is an animal massage therapist specializing in esoteric healing.

It?s About Treating Animals With Compassion, Not ?Rights? By Maleah Stringer

December 17, 2004, ANDERSON, INDIANA--One of the questions that comes up frequently for groups that do animal rescue and deal with the issues of animal cruelty is that of the forgotten animal. You?ve all seen them ? the ones chained or in tiny kennels in the back yard 24/7. It seems the only time they get any interaction with another living being is when they?re fed and if they?re lucky when their area is cleaned of feces. This isolation is particularly sad for dogs since they are social (pack) animals. Having very little interaction with either their human family or other animals can cause a number of behavioral problems.

* They lose what social skills they may have had.

* They become depressed and withdrawn.

* May be more prone to bite or behave aggressively.

* Unprovoked barking or whining.

* Health problems.

* Hyper behavior.

In Indiana and most other states animals are considered property. It is also a law in this state that if an animal has food, water and shelter the owner generally cannot be cited for abuse. Well, unless of course they are seen actually beating the animal, or the animals are in horrific physical condition.

There are no definitions for abuse. Shelter can be a lean-to up against a building. There are certainly no laws concerning emotional abuse. We have a hard enough time dealing with this concept when it pertains to humans.

The idea of animals as property isn?t necessarily a bad thing unless the owner abuses the animal and that particular abuse does not fall under the guidelines of state abuse laws. The other problem is that people who have animals or work with animals all have a hundred different opinions on what abuse actually is. What?s abuse to one person is not necessarily abuse to someone else.

The phrase ?it?s my dog, I?ll do what I want with it? is used often. And if that means attaching it to a 3-foot chain with food, water and some sort of shelter then they can and do.

For many people the idea of giving animals ?rights? is a red alert that their own rights are going to be violated. I was told once emphatically by a trainer, ?Animals don?t have rights ? they have what I give them. It?s my responsibility to take care of them. And I do.? And maybe she does, but judging from all the blatant animal abuse that goes on all over the world many others do not.

Perhaps I?m being dense, but I?ve never really understood how treating an animal morally or ethically is taking away anyone?s rights. Why have a dog if you?re going to chain it in the far corner of the yard and never pay any attention to it? What?s the point? To say you have a dog? Treating a pet in this manner not only denies the dog a good life but the owner misses out on the truly special bond animals and people can enjoy.

This isn?t about animal rights, this is about compassion and perhaps putting yourself in an animal?s position. I don?t think there are many of us who would want to live our lives almost completely isolated from human or animal interaction, staked to the ground with nothing to do. Never able to run or just act like a dog. Think about what that kind of existence would do to you. This is similar to the life we give to people who?ve committed crimes and are in prison. Wonder what these dogs do to receive the same fate?

Note: If you?d like to support the Madison County Humane Society you can donate the following: dry Purina Kitten Chow, liquid laundry soap, sponge or rag mops, brooms.

The Active Activist Castles for Canines to Remedy the Plight of Outdoor Dogs By Michelle Rivera -

"Dog people" fall into a number of different categories. There are those who become dependent upon their dogs for love, companionship and affection; speaking about them as if they were children, carrying photos in their wallets and inviting, no insisting, that they sleep in the bed with them.

There is another category of dog people who admire dogs for their great beauty, their intelligence, their "conformation" to the ideals of specific breeds. They are the ones who take their dogs to dog shows and get points and trophies, always chasing the dream of the perfect specimen of Rottweiler, German Shepherd Dog or Poodle. They love their dogs very much but in a different way and for different reasons. (I am not excusing or condoning this behavior, just stating a fact.)

The third category is those who take in stray dogs and care little for their aesthetics, colors, coat or pedigree. As long as the dog is friendly, needy and fits in well with the family, their attitude is "What the heck? What's one more dog!" These people are frequently the ones with the three-legged mongrel that came limping into their lives one day. They are also saints and heroes!

As animal activists, most of us fall into the first and third category. But there is another category, a very disturbing one, that those who all of the people in the above categories combined will never, ever understand no matter how often they hear the arguments, the rationalization and the excuses. These are the people who acquire a dog for a variety of reasons, most of them centering around home security, and force them to live outside without the benefit of human interaction and friendship. Those in the first three categories cannot understand how someone who has a dog would not want to be in his or her delightful company twenty-four hours a day, but for some reason, having a dog means having a dog in the yard.

And if we thought long and hard, we could never think of a harsher punishment to mete out to dogs than to banish them to the out of doors, to be chained, fenced or caged in full exposure to the elements but not the human touch. Dogs are pack animals and the modern-day family is their substitute pack.

People send their dogs outside for a variety of reasons. Some people get puppies at shelters or (God forbid) pet stores and then fail to teach them basic manners and obedience. Then, the dogs grow up without any knowledge of how to act around people and are banished to the outdoors, or worse, given up to shelters where nobody wants a frenetic adult dog and they are usually put to sleep. Others make their dogs live outside under a false sense of providing security for their homes. These folks fail to understand that even the most mild mannered of canine will give his or her life to defend his home, his pack, his "den" if threatened. But making a dog live outside does not make them feel like part of the pack and they are more likely to run away in the face of danger than stand and fight.

Forcing a dog to live outside in the hot summer sun, subjected to insects, cruel children who throw things at them and possible theft is an unkind way to treat an animal, but if the dog must live outside, there are some guidelines to make his or her life just a little easier.

So what can the Active Activist do about this?

Well, visiting is a great way to get started. You can ask for fliers that can then be distributed to those who you find chaining dogs outside. You can also learn about how to initiate a process to create legislation in your hometown to put a stop to the barbaric practice of banishing dogs to the outdoors.

Or you can do what one Florida animal-welfare group has done, initiate a terrific new program to provide dog houses for people who have dogs living outdoors. Along with a few volunteers to assemble and deliver the dog houses, you can initiate a "Castles for Canines" project in your own community. This is a terrific way to enhance the lives of the dogs who are living outside and unable to get out of the elements. With donated supplies (check Home Depot or ask your local paper if they will run a free ad) you may actually be able to provide these dog houses free of charge to anyone who asks for them for their sterilized dog. (Hook up with a vet or rescue group so you can be ready to provide the sterilization to anyone who expresses a willingness to participate.) The dog houses are two-story luxury models, with a ramp and sun deck and a roomy inside place to hide from the sun and rain.

Or check out the latest copy of Animal People for an ad for dog houses constructed simply of bales of hay and plywood. Simple, cheap and transportable.

Counsel those with outdoor dogs to at least provide a companion for him or her. Dogs are pack animals and need company and socialization to be well adjusted. Encourage them to get their dog a friend from the shelter.

And fight for legislation to prohibit the chaining of a dog to a tree or post. Dogs should have free run of a fenced-in yard. Dogs who are chained up run the risk of becoming aggressive, fearful and psychologically unsound. They can't run away from danger.

Also, educate dog owners about the dangers of heartworms. Heartworms are a debilitating, fatal disease that is easily prevented by giving a once-a-month preventative such as HeartGuard. (Heartworms come from a mosquito bite.) Dogs must have heartworm protection, flea protection and a tag and/or microchip so that if s/he gets under or over the fence and out of your control s/he can find his or her way home. Fleas and ticks cause horrendous itching, rash and even paralysis.

And finally, counsel those with dogs of a long-haired or long-ear variety to please keep them clipped and groomed. Ear infections are excruciatingly painful but prevalent in long-eared dogs, especially those subjected to moisture and heat, as outdoor dogs are.

Check your local statutes to see if there are laws being broken by those who don't comply with rules for keeping animals healthy. I was able to bring charges against a dog owner whose cocker spaniel developed such matting and ear infections that he had to be put down due to the parasites that had inhabited his skin and ears. The "owner" was charged with a felony for failure to render veterinary care.

The best solution is to find a reasonable obedience trainer who is willing to help indigent people for a reduced fee so that dogs can be brought inside where they belong. Dogs and people both deserve the friendship a family dog can provide.

Assemble these points and ideas into an article for your local paper. Your local newspaper may have a special "Pets Section" as does mine, that solicits articles about animals, see if your paper has such a section and get to know the editor. Chances are, they are looking for someone knowledgeable and dependable to write a few articles throughout the year.

If we don't speak up for chained dogs, who will?