BREAK THE CHAINS
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Little girl named Survivor arriving at TEARS with a horrific injury from a life on an improper chain. This skinny girl is enjoying her first meal with us. She will have surgery in the morning.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to see an update video on Survivor.
TEARS Fights Improper Chaining of Dogs to Improve Lives
Chaining: Why it Happens and How Frequently
Chaining of dogs is prevalent in low-income communities across South Africa. The TEARS Mobile Clinic estimates that 40-percent of dogs living in the impoverished areas that we serve are improperly chained.
Living in cramped conditions, many do not have walled or fenced yards. In these cases, we frequently see that owners will chain dogs to their kennel to avoid them wandering away or being stolen. Many of these chained dogs are meant to act as guard dogs.
Is Chaining Illegal? What does South African Law Have to Say?
Chaining of an animal is specifically mentioned in the Animal Protection Act (Act 71 of 1962 as amended). The law requires that a chained animal must not be chained unnecessarily or in a manner that causes the animal unnecessary suffering or puts the animal in a position where they have inadequate space, ventilation, light, protection or shelter from the elements. Moreover, it is unlawful to deprive an animal of food or water.
If an animal is improperly chained for prolonged periods, this can present additional unlawful situations in which the animal is exposed to infectious agents by not being able to move away from the area in which they are forced to defecate.
Consequences of Improper Chaining
Being chained causes a dog’s nature to be dampened. Naturally, dogs want to explore their territory, to read all of their pee-mails and to smell the scents of the other animals. All animals are entitled to the right to express their natural behaviour. Improperly chained dogs are unable to act on their natural instincts resulting in a state of constant low-level stress, anxiety and depression which can result in decreased immunity and underlying sicknesses and vulnerabilities.
Improperly chained dogs are not able to exercise. At the TEARS Welfare Clinic, our veterinary team see deterioration of bone structure and muscle loss as a direct result of chaining. During the summer and winter months, improperly chained dogs can suffer injury and death as a result of exposure. If deprived of food and water while chained, dogs are not able to scavenge if not fed proper meals and have access to water.
Many times, dogs are improperly chained on cement floors which results in horrendous pressure sores from sitting on the hard, rough floor. The TEARS Welfare Clinic has seen these sores eat through the skin straight to the bone.
Yet another impact of improper chaining is that the dog is not able to move away from the area in which they defecate. The results in an increase in bacterial infections, food and water contamination and an increase in flies carrying infectious and often deadly protozoan.
In severe cases, the TEARS Welfare Clinic sees dogs with open pressure sores on their neck as a result of inadequate collars and chains, sometimes the collars can even become embedded in the skin. The worst case we have ever seen was that of a border collie who had a climbing carabiner pierced straight through the skin at his throat connected directly to a chain – no collar at all.
The legal consequences of improper chaining are conviction of offences under the Animal Protection Act (71 of 1962). The severity of the crimes will determine the outcome for the guilty party, which can include a fine and/or jail time and removal of the animal. One found guilty could also be deemed unfit to ever own an animal again.
TEARS Animal Rescue understands that the decision to chain a dog may be the only option that the family. The TEARS Mobile Clinic Outreach Programme supports communities to help overcome struggles and lack of adequate humane education.
By investing in our communities where resources are limited, TEARS helps educate pet owners and improve the lives of dogs that are chained. The TEARS Mobile Clinic helps to provide suitable collars and running chains which allow dogs increased movement within their yard.
How to Do it Correctly if You Must Chain
A running chain is the only acceptable method of chaining a dog, if the dog must be chained. If your dog does not need to be chained, then your dog should never be chained.
The Cape Animal Welfare Forum, of which TEARS is a member, recommends a runner of at least 5-metres in length with a light chain of at least 2-metres and suitable collar, never a choke chain, to be attached. Within the area that is freely accessible by the chain, there must be shade, easy access to weather-proof shelter, food and water. All obstructions and possible entanglements should be removed and the dog should be regularly exercised off of the chain.
By no means does TEARS advocate for the use of chains. The unfortunate reality is that, in some circumstances which are more prevalent in impoverished areas, proper use of running chains can improve the lives of the dogs. The law makes specific provisions and mention of chaining and what is acceptable.
Help the TEARS Mobile Outreach Programme reach more dogs that are improperly chained and educate more people about how to invest in their pets’ well-being. Donate to TEARS today.
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