Of course you all know me by now. I’m a pet lover, animal advocate and dog mama to 4 fuzzy Basset Hound kids, Lake, Gun, Schooner and Tides (3 of whom are rescues). I try to reach out and help make a difference for animals, however I can, whether it be a donation, posting and sharing on social media or volunteer hours. Last week was “Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week” (February 7-14
) so I wanted to share a little inspiration about how fences give freedom and the fact that chaining a dog is not the way to love and honor your best furry friend.
My husband and I rescued a chained dog named London a few years ago. Her family didn’t want her anymore so we took her home and welcomed her to our family. She had been chained as a small puppy and her family continued to keep her chained to a dog house in their yard for over 13 years. Her spirit was broken and all she had was an old dog house and a worn out chain that only gave her 6 feet to walk around. She was frustrated and suffered aggression from being chained so long and would nip or bite at people who tried to pet her. She spent her nights fighting off predators that would steal her dog food.
Remember a dog is all about it’s relationship with people. They don’t want to live solitary lives alone and chained to a dog house yards away from you, they are domesticated animals that want and need companionship and love from their humans. London had never been part of a family so we brought her home and she settled in very quickly. She did have some medical issues as well as being heart worm positive so we took her to our vet for a check up and to set up a care plan to help her feel a little better. She had mouth cancer that after a few weeks of medicine seemed to be in remission and we were so thrilled! Due to her advanced age, she wasn’t a good candidate for heart worm treatment so we just gave her heart worm medicine every month. Never having been a house dog, she quickly learned the ropes as well as keeping her distance from our other dogs. After a while they all learned to peacefully coexist but we did have to break up a few outbursts and made a few visits to the vet for stitches and antibiotics.
London was very fearful of women, so it took her over a year to let me just pet her. She adored my husband and was his constant shadow everywhere he went. She loved to go for rides, walks, and get her coat groomed a few times a year. It was so heartwarming to think about all she suffered yet still had so much love (in her own way) to share with us and others. She lived with us just over 2 years and we helped her make the journey when the mouth cancer came back in full force. London was only with us a short time but we were so glad we helped unchain her and give her the life and love she deserved.
Not long after London came to live with us, I started volunteering with a local pet advocate group called Unchain Charleston. It is a program hosted by our local pet shelter PetHelpers. It is such a great opportunity to do something for chained dogs especially having a former chained dog myself. Unchain Charleston works to educate and engage the local community to the harmful effects of tethering and chaining dogs.
Unchain Charleston is “breaking the chains and improving the lives of dogs in the Lowcountry. Fences Give Freedom!”
“Under the Pet Helpers umbrella of programs, a group of volunteers has formed Unchain Charleston. Unchain Charleston is a concerted effort to spread awareness about the plight of chained dogs and to build fences for chained dogs in the Lowcountry. By providing an alternative to chaining, Unchain Charleston keeps dogs out of the shelter system and in their loving homes. Unchain Charleston fences help to also protect animals in under-served communities, offering the security and shelter that they deserve. Moreover, the Unchain program encourages dog owners to spay/neuter, vaccinate and protect their pet(s) against heart worm disease.”
They work with local families who chain their dogs by offering them a fence built in their yard for their dog(s) to live in, free from being chained to a tree or post. Though the Unchain Program, fence recipients’ dogs are spayed or neutered, given vaccines and heart worm preventative ( treatment) if needed, as well as food, toys and bowls. The UC dogs are all monitored periodically with volunteer updates and visits to make sure the dog(s) have enough warm bedding, food, etc. that they need to live comfortably outside. Unchain Charleston does work to help the families understand that in inclement weather it would be ideal for them to bring the pets inside if possible.
So I volunteer a few hours on a weekend when I can and help free a dog from it’s chained life. In just a few hours, the fence is completed and we welcome the dog to it’s new, safe and spacious enclosure. They have the room to romp and just enjoy their surroundings without the fear of getting caught up on a chain or getting loose. And yes, unchaining a dog brings them an entire new world to be free.,unlike before when they had no room to run or play. We have built fences for dogs just like London who have tether aggression from being chained too long. You can’t pet them or interact with them but when they are released into the fence you do see a glimmer of hope and happiness in their eyes.
I have to tell you that the experience of being an Unchain Charleston volunteer is incredible and knowing that you can give a dog freedom for the rest of it’s life just makes it that much better. Oh yes, it’s an amazing feeling too that keeps me going to as many builds as possible. I work to help promote the dedicated work of UC. One aspect I really like about Unchain Charleston is that it doesn’t work to hurt or condemn those that tether / chain their dogs. We use a positive approach to help educate our community about tethering / chaining issues, engage with the dogs’ families to allow us the opportunity to help them free their dogs and share our mission and message…Fences Give Freedom!
To make a donation or find out more info about PetHelpers’ Unchain Charleston program…