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Home > Pet News and Articles > Time to Break the Chain

Time to Break the Chain
Article By: Glenn Redmond

I rented the movie "Murder in the First" this weekend. This is the fact-based story of prisoner Henri Young who, in 1938, was incarcerated in Alcatraz for stealing $5 to feed his starving sister. After an escape attempt, Henri spent over three years in isolation, deprived from human contact. He emerges frustrated, scared, savage and barely human, and in a fit of rage quickly kills one of his fellow inmates.

The parallels between this movie and the savage attacks by dogs that are isolated in the same manner were not lost on me. After learning about the 17-month-old child killed in Ontario by a chained Rottweiller/Shepard cross and then listening to the VOCM open lines, I was disappointed to hear that breed bans were again the topic of conversation as a solution to dog attacks.

This line of reasoning is misinformed and downright reckless. It has the same sense of holding The Ford Motor Company accountable for accidents that involve speeding. The powerful Mustang is not responsible for the accident, the driver who speeds is, and the same can be said of owners of many dogs that bite. Banning the Mustang is not going to stop drivers from speeding and banning certain dog breeds will not address the link between dog aggression and dogs that are kept chained and isolated.

Now, before everybody gets a bee in their bonnet, understand I am not talking about tying your dog outside so that they can get a bit of fresh air or to relieve themselves. I am talking about prolonged confinement in one place, either chained or within a pen.

All data confirms that unsocialised dogs are a grave danger to the public, especially children. A dog forced to live on a chain for days, weeks or years will build in frustration, becoming anxious, agitated, fearful, territorial, and aggressive. Not only that, if these tethered dogs somehow manage to escape the chain, they now roam the street as a loaded weapon, much like Henri Young when he was finally released from isolation.

Here are the facts:

  • In America, chained dogs kill as many children as do firearms, and more children than falls from trees, falls on playground equipment and fireworks put together.
  • Karen Delise author of "Fatal Dog Attacks" states in her book, "statistically, chained dogs are more dangerous than a free-running pack of dogs."
  • Centre for Disease Control - "chained dogs are three times more likely to bite."
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association, quote for Dog Bite Prevention Week - "never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behaviour."
  • The Humane Society of the United States - "A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.
  • St. John's SPCA - "Tethering - Inhumane for Dogs and Dangerous for People."
  • Mother's Against Chained Dogs - "chaining dogs is cruel to the animals - and dangerous to children."
  • Safety Council of Canada on the Dog Bite Epidemic - "Any owner who must keep a dog locked up (or chained outside) for 12 hours a day should probably not own one.

Most people get a dog and allow them to have a role in their family. It boggles my mind why someone takes on the responsibility of dog ownership only to chain the animal to a post or confine within a pen. These owners leave their pets day and night with no social interaction or mental stimulation. These dogs have no say in this inhumane treatment and our society blames the dog when they act out from this abuse.

Having said all this, what is the solution? Very simple actually, if you get a dog, be a responsible owner and chaining your dog for prolonged periods is not responsible ownership.

It is a tragedy what happened in Ontario and to the thousands of other children killed or maimed in dog attacks.

We have come a long way from the dungeons of Alcatraz, realizing the dramatic affects that isolation and mistreatment has on the human mind. When are we going to realize that similar treatment of animals has the same affect.

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