Freedom from Chains as a Lesson from Martin Luther King Jr.

I saw “Selma” on Friday, the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s (and so many others) march on Selma, Alabama which was a turning point in the fight for racial equality in America.

As I sat in the dark theater watching whites beat blacks to death and employ German Shepherds as attack dogs to cause them even more fear and pain, I sobbed for the cruelty that humanity is capable of. I asked myself (as I seem to do so much lately), “Why? Why? Why? I just don’t understand.”

I don’t understand why humans are so cruel to others and to animals. I don’t understand why those in power (of any color) torture and abuse those without power. I don’t understand why they can’t see that a living, breathing being is suffering and why they think it’s in any way ok to keep them down and abused.

In the days of the slaves, the white oppressors convinced themselves that the blacks were ‘happy.’ They liked living that way.

Every oppressive regime or government says the same thing about the oppressed. “They like it. They’re happy.”

But they’re not. Every oppressed people longs for freedom, and ever oppressor refuses to grant that freedom. Freedom doesn’t come without a fight.

Our fight for freedom for chained dogs is this very same fight. The only difference is that these non-human animals don’t speak with a human voice, so we must become their mouthpieces.

I picked this dog up who couldn't stand, took him to the vet, and refused to return him to the owners who left him lay like that for three days. I was charged with theft and receiving stolen property. I didn't care. He was worth it.
I picked this dog up who couldn’t stand, took him to the vet, and refused to return him to the owners who left him lay like that for three days. I was charged with theft and receiving stolen property. I didn’t care. He was worth it.

Chained dogs still speak. A dog who is laying on the ground, unable to stand, but looks at you with pleading eyes; these eyes beg for help. That anyone with eyes and a heart can understand.

A dog who is chained against his will and against his nature barks for freedom. He paces, whines, cries, and eventually gives up on life. All this is visible if you but open your eyes to see.

The dogs’ oppressors don’t see/won’t see. They tell you they are ‘happy’ out there. Sound familiar?

They’re not.

What is the biggest lesson chained dog advocates can take away from Dr. King and those who marched with him?


No one will GIVE the dogs freedom without being forced. And the only way to win the freedom which should be theirs already by moral law? Through the use of the collective voice of the many.

Dr. King went to the president time after time for help. He was told to be patient. He was told it wasn’t yet time for his issue. To sit down and wait his turn.

King refused. He gathered his troops (blacks and whites—all willing to die for the cause) and they marched. Some did die and some were gravely injured. But they marched anyway, for they understood the cost was necessary in order to win rights for the many.

When do we march? When do we feel strongly enough about the plight of the chained dogs to STAND UP AND DO SOMETHING?


The bottom line is that lawmakers and authorities will not help the dogs until we MAKE THEM DO IT. They will stand with those in power who tell them the dogs are ‘happy’ out there.


Will we make the dogs wait another century for freedom? How long must they wait?


11 thoughts on “Freedom from Chains as a Lesson from Martin Luther King Jr.”

  1. Tamira, you are a good person. i feel your pain. my neighbor left his dog out for 5 days straight in 90 degree weather without water, food or any shade. i talked to him but he told me to mind my own business. i gave the dog water and food and when i tried to pet her she was shaking. i knew she was abused. i called the police since the warden’s office was closed. the cops came and did nothing but told him to take the dog inside. he put the dog in his truck and drove off. when he returned the dog was not with him. i don’t know what he did to that poor girl and i cannot even think about it. he has another dog now. i only saw it once in the past 7 months. when people go in his house i hear the dog bark but don’t see it. i think it’s chained or in a cage…it kills me! i don’t know what else to do. i live in ohio…any ideas? p.s. the dog he has is a pit bull and it is illegal to own one in the town in live in (i don’t agree with that, i love pits). please help me if you can. thanks


    1. Ugh, that is hard, Christine, I’m so sorry. If it’s any consolation, (and it’s not) you are not the only one to go through hell for raising your voice. Anytime that happens, the dog disappears, I keep an eye on the local shelter, and get the dog out if possible, just in case that ever happens again. If he has one that he’s torturing inside the house, best thing to do is find a way to get someone in there…repairman or something like that, who could find out what is going on with this new poor dog.


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