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TX: Concerns raised about chained dogs in rural Texas

Discussion in 'Dog Ordinances & Laws' started by Alma, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. Alma

    Alma GRCH Dog

    MARTINDALE, Texas — When Titan and Ladybug came to Austin, the pair of 3-year-old pit bulls were in bad shape. Being chained to a stake in the ground all day since puppyhood had taken a toll on the dogs' health.

    Ladybug's harness had started growing into her skin. She walks with a permanent hunch and can't bark because of a damaged throat. Titan's ribs were sticking out from malnourishment, and he had had his ears cut off with scissors. Both had heartworms, fleas and ticks.

    In 2007, Austin passed an ordinance that punishes owners who chain their dogs with fines of up to $500. Dogs kept mostly outside must have an enclosure — such as a fence — with a minimum of 10 by 15 feet for each adult dog. In 2008, the City of Georgetown passed a ban on dog chaining as well.

    But in some rural areas, no laws keep dogs off chains, and animal advocacy groups say it is a problem for dogs and humans alike.

    Titan and Ladybug are receiving care and are waiting for a home at the Canine Hilton shelter in east Austin after members of the Austin nonprofit Love-A-Bull persuaded their Martindale owners to let them have the dogs for $200.

    Although both dogs had suffered from the chaining, there was no indication they were being used for fighting, and both have playful, friendly temperaments. Martindale Police Chief Jeff Caldwell said no citations were issued against their owners.

    "While not the ideal situation for those dogs, it's not necessarily illegal," he said.

    Love-A-Bull has helped five dogs from Martindale this year, all of whom were victims of chaining. The group mostly does education and advocacy work, member Lydia Zaidman said, but it acted to rescue the dogs in this case because of the extreme situation.

    Animal control resources — including money for enforcement officers and shelters — are scarce in rural Central Texas, and education about the dangers of chaining dogs is hard to come by, animal advocates said.

    Caldwell County's strays usually end up at the Lockhart Animal Shelter, a facility on Old McMahan Road. The shelter houses about 56 dogs and 24 cats daily, with an average of 180 animals a month. Its $267,000 annual budget comes from the City of Lockhart, Caldwell County and donations.

    By comparison, Austin's Town Lake Animal Center has an annual budget of $5.5 million and cares for about 23,000 animals a year. The city has plans to build a new $12 million facility in east Austin.

    Melanie Tucker, Lockhart's director of animal services, said the city bans leaving restrained dogs outside and unattended for long periods. Chaining is more of a problem in rural areas, where enforcement is left to two Caldwell County sheriff animal control officers and where chaining often is unreported, she said.

    Animal advocates say chaining dogs is inhumane, encourages aggressive behavior and makes dogs more territorial.

    "There is a total lack of understanding about why chaining is so bad for dogs," Zaidman said.

    Zaidman said her own pit bull, rescued after up to three years of being chained up alone, has no teeth from trying to gnaw the chain off.

    Lyndon Poole, a member of Chain Free Austin, among the groups that pushed for Austin's chaining ban, said that children who wander near chained dogs are in danger because of the dogs' increased aggressive behavior. Many people think that chaining a dog in their yard will offer protection, but Poole said chaining prevents the dog from properly bonding with humans.

    "A dog is better able to protect you if it's inside your home and not restrained by a chain," he said.

    Since the Austin law passed, Poole said he sees fewer dogs on chains these days. "Unfortunately, those laws stop outside the city limits," he said.

    Patt Nordyke, executive director of the Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies, said the federation and other groups are pushing for a statewide ban on dog chaining but that they aren't optimistic because of the current budget crunch.

    A bill signed into law after the 2007 legislative session put some restrictions on tethering dogs, including making it a Class C misdemeanor to leave a dog within 500 feet of a school or in extreme weather, such as freezing temperatures or during a heat advisory.

    Nordyke, Zaidman and others want to see a state law that mandates an enclosure for dogs kept outside, similar to Austin's ordinance.

    "The state needs to do something because these towns won't do it," Zaidman said.

    Concerns raised about chained dogs in rural Texas | AP Texas News | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle
  2. simms

    simms Good Dog

    persueded my ass they likely threatend to turn them in if they didn't surrender them to the group.
  3. CoolHandJean

    CoolHandJean Krypto Super Dog

    Look at this paragraph:
    "Ladybug's harness had started growing into her skin. She walks with a permanent hunch and can't bark because of a damaged throat. Titan's ribs were sticking out from malnourishment, and he had had his ears cut off with scissors. Both had heartworms, fleas and ticks."

    How does that, which is obviously Owner neglect of a dog and owner abuse of a dog, bring them to this next sentence in the next paragraph, "In 2007, Austin passed an ordinance that punishes owners who chain their dogs with fines of up to $500." One is not equal to the other. So, everything above was the Owners' fault, and they aren't going to be charged with abuse/neglect, but instead get a fine for the type of containment used? Anyone else see the ridiculousness of that whole situation?

    If tethers were outlawed before they found Ladybug/Titan, would Ladybug and Titan still not have fleas, ticks, and heartworms? If tethers were outlawed, would Titan still not be starved and have his ears cut off with scissors? Would Titan and Ladybug's ex-owner still not be an abusive and neglectful owner?

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