From Andi Elliott, President of the Humane Society of the Upper Valley
Finally, Mom had said “yes”. We could have a puppy! Saturday took forever to arrive and that morning we all climbed into the car and off we went to acquire a puppy.
Her name was Queenieâ€¦a tiny 6 week-old Shepherd mix. Queenie spent the weekend in the house with the family and we all had a great time playing with her. Dad spent Saturday building a doghouse. Sunday evening, Mom said we had to take Queenie out to the doghouse. Sadly, we carried the tiny puppy outside and fastened the chain to her collar.
I can’t remember how many weeks or months Queenie whined and cried to rejoin her family. We would go out and play with her but after awhile that lost its attraction. How much fun was it play with a dog when we weren’t allowed to unchain it?
We began leaving for college and on our home visits, I don’t remember any of us ever going out back to say “hi” to Queenie. Sometime after graduation, Dad told me during the course of casual conversation, that Queenie had died. I choked thinking back to that puppy on the chain and realizing that she had spent 14 years on that very same chain without anyone doing any more for her than giving her food and water once a day. I vowed that it would never happen to a pet of mine again. I often think of how Queenie would have much rather had one day of freedom than a lifetime of captivity.
So, just how cruel is it to condemn a dog to a life on a chain or in a pen? According to Idaho law, only food, shelter, water, and needed veterinary care are required and many of our county dogs don’t even receive this basic care.
Dogs are pack animals and to deprive them of this basic need is inhumaneâ€¦it’s akin to solitary confinement for a human. Chained dogs are responsible for the deaths and mauling of hundreds of children as they become isolated and protective of their tiny space. There have been a couple of very sad cases in the news lately where children have been killed by tethered dogs.
And how many chained dogs don’t have adequate shelter and receive minimal food? Water in our climate freezes in a matter of hours during the winter. How many of us go out and offer them water 4 to 5 times day? How many hours would you want to go between drinks? That rug or blanket you put in the house froze solid way back in November and the poor animal must spent the remaining winter lying either outside exposed to the cold or huddled in a shivering ball trying to maintain body heat. Poor quality of food decreases their ability to even keep themselves warm and adds to their misery. Isn’t this just another form of torture?
And how about summer time? The heat is blistering and a doghouse in the sun is akin to an oven. Yet, how many chained dogs have no access to shade and fresh water? This is simply another form of torture…it’s animal cruelty.
Those of us in rescue are well aware that all across our nation is a movement to limit and prohibit the chaining of dogs. Our neighbor next door, Idaho Falls, is also stepping up to the plate and such a measure will be introduced to the City Council this month. I urge everyone who knows of a “Queenie” to attend and support this measure. Perhaps we can begin to institute measures in Jefferson County to prevent more “Queenies” . With enough concerned citizens, we can prevent this form of cruelty and improve the life of a lot of dogs. And, in doing so, prevent more children from being injured or even killed by a chained dogâ€¦a dog that is powerless to prevent this cruelty perpetuated upon him by his owner.
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