Looking for a Little Love this Valentine’s Day? You and a whole boatload of chained dogs, silently suffering in backyards all across America.
This week, during Dogs Deserve Better’s Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week (February 7-14), we are pairing Valentines made by schoolchildren, scouts, and otherwise crafty people with educational brochures and mailing them to addresses of approximately 10,000 chained dogs—dogs who are lookin’ for just a little love.
All in the hopes that when dog caretakers get a look at these super-sweet Valentines—handmade especially for their dog—their hearts will expand too and they will be inspired to Free Fido, giving him/her an honored spot at their next holiday dinner.
But, as with anytime kids are involved, there is always potential for messages to go slightly askew, making for some giggles if not some outright guffaws. And so, I present to you my All Time Top Ten Favoritest Funniest Kids’ Valentines for Chained Dogs:
1. At Least Give Me Enough Chain to Reach the Hot Dog Stand.
This is one smart kid. He figures the dog is hungry, and if his/her owner won’t feed him, if he had enough chain he could get his own dang hotdogs.
2. I Like Food. Not Dirt. Love, Your Dog.
OK, something about this one just slays me. I can’t stop giggling when I read it.
3. Let Me In or I Will Bite Your Children. P.S. I Have Rabies.
Granted, this one is a little threatening, but still pretty darn funny. And, he or she probably knows that chained dogs are 3x more likely to bite!
4. I Got You a Balloon. Will You Let Me In Now, Please!
While the balloon is funny, the dogs face really does me in. He’s so deadpan. This kid knows that gifts and flattery can sometimes get you everywhere.
5. Yo, Let Me In. [Appears to have a baseball hat on backwards even]. Yo Yo Please Let Me In. Also Get Some Food Up in this Joint. And this Collar is Choking My Neck. Also Get Water Yo.
Dogs in the Hood. ‘Nuf said.
6. I Promise to Spread the Love, Not the Fleas.
Come on, how cute is that? I’m not sure that’s a promise a chained dog can keep without a little flea medication, but I love the sentiment.
7. I’m Talking to the Cats. I Don’t Like Them. So Break the Chain And Let Me In. Please?
I think there’s even a little pic of the dog going after the cat in there? I guess he’s so desperate for someone to talk to he’s talking to the cats. And that’s just not good.
8. Don’t be Cruel and Freeze. Let Me In and I’ll Cuddle with your Knees. Come On, Don’t Be a Hater and Get Me Just to Impress your Friends and then Throw Me Outside.
I gotta love anything with the word ‘hater’ in it.
I think these last two were made by adults, but they’re still funny…
9. [Dude, you’re Holding Me Prisoner]
10. 1-800-HAVAHEART. Hello, It’s Your Dog. Can I Come In…
Haha. If that worked I’d buy them all cell phones!
Some of the Valentines we receive might even bring a tear to your eye; they’re sure to get an ‘Aw.’ These kids create such touching Valentines that I can’t help but think they have to melt the ice around a caretaker’s heart. Will the dog then get a chance at a real, inside home and family?
My Top Picks for Touching Valentines are as Follows:
Here are My Top Picks for “Tellin’ It Like It Is” Valentines:
And lastly, we get some truly gorgeous handmade Valentines by our crafty supporters. This is but a handful of the wonderful creations they’ve sent in over the past 12 years, and I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has poured their hearts and souls into the making of these Valentines. It shows, and I hope they touch the hearts that receive them.
Since it appears the news station only called Dogs Deserve Better for a statement AFTER our office staff went home for the day (leaving a message just before 6 p.m.), I’ll be more than happy to create our rebuttal to the above story here in my blog.
1. Was it an animal rescue, or a “violent act of harassment?”
Neither. It was a stand against animal cruelty.
You see, while every one of you at your news station goes home to your WARM, happy, and healthy dogs sleeping on your couches, Joe Schmoe that you’ve just interviewed leaves his dogs outside for life.
Because, in his words, “They AREN’T HOUSE DOGS.”
But they are. HOUSE DOGS. Joe Schmoe is just too uncaring to know it.
Every dog is a house dog. Every dog wants to be a member of the family, and these two pit mixes you’re showing are no exception.
Pitbulls are some of the most chained dogs in America, yet they are short-coated dogs and don’t have the fur to endure the cold; they are among the first to freeze to death at the end of a chain.
2. Police are ‘concerned’ about an ‘out of state’ rescue group’s methods.
What would these heinous METHODS be, you might ask? Putting up photos of a dog in distress on social media and having people call the authorities and the news stations about it?
It’s called FREE SPEECH. Social action. Dog advocacy. Nothing sinister about it, although it sure is being purported as such.
3. Police say the viral response to our Facebook post ‘could have put lives in danger.’
Weren’t lives already in danger? The dogs who are forced to live outside in sub freezing temperatures on nights with wind chills as low as -7 are in danger of death every single day of the winter months. By people taking a stand against this treatment of our best friends, we are acting to SAVE LIVES.
4. Even ‘we’ (the news station) felt the repercussions.
So the news station and the police station get bombarded with phone calls asking for help for the dog? I would call that a success. Thanks to everyone who stood up for the dog and made a difference. We do have a voice, and we can and should continue to use our voices until laws and lawmakers and those tasked with upholding the laws understand that living beings have the right to live free of the danger of death at the end of chain.
5. People came around his house and made threats and brandished pistols.
[I watch a lot of Judge Judy because my hubby likes her. She would say if someone DID brandish a weapon, wouldn’t that be the first thing you talk about instead of bringing it up at the end as an afterthought? I know I’d be blubbering on and on about that if it were me.]
Dogs Deserve Better asks for phone calls to police and local news on dog cases like this. We NEVER advocate violence. Anyone who becomes violent as a result of something they read online is standing on their own, and not as part of any group.
I can tell you that dog-loving Americans are getting fed up with the animal abuse and neglect. If they are acting out, I would suggest that lawmakers stop dragging their feet and get to making and enforcing better laws for Man’s Best Friend.
IF THIS REALLY HAPPENED, and I have no idea if it did or not, then it probably won’t be the first or last time.
However, neither I nor DDB are responsible for one person’s reaction to the abuse they are seeing. We simply point it out; we don’t advocate or condone violence in reaction to it. We ask for phone calls to flood the police and the media.
6. Blames it on his neighbor.
Our apologies and condolences go out to this neighbor. Do you know how much abuse she had to witness in order to decide to stand and ask for help for the dog? Can you understand for one second the fear she had to face just by going public with what she was seeing?
Color me shocked! Not. Dog wardens, animal control officers, police, seldom find ‘anything wrong’ unless the dog’s already dead. At that point they MIGHT start to think something is wrong, but you can bet in most cases there won’t even be charges filed.
News reporter—Shelby is it—do you have two eyes? Do you have a dog? Because anyone who DOES have two eyes can see that there’s definitely something wrong.
8. They are well cared for, but not HOUSE DOGS.
Joe Schmoe states the dogs were well cared for, but NOT house dogs. Then they were NOT well cared for, or they WOULD be house dogs. ‘Outside dogs’ and ‘cared for’ do not go together. Oddly, the news station continually showed photos of the dog inside, but then they admit the dogs live outside and proudly show the doghouses.
Doghouses are not something to be proud of.
In fact, I’d like to issue a CHALLENGE TO THIS GUY, JOE SCHMOE DOG OWNER. I WILL COME THERE AND CHAIN UP TO YOUR DOGHOUSES WITH YOU IN THE DOGS’ PLACE.
WHEN YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH AND CAN ADMIT THAT THIS IS NO LIFE FOR A DOG, WE WILL QUIT. Deal?
Just give me a call at our office when you’re ready for our challenge. 757-357-9292.
9. She had a skin allergy, which is why she was red and patchy. I have ointment for it.
Did the news station ask to see the vet bill for the medicine? Any vet instructions for the skin allergy? Or, as usual, did they just believe whatever they were told.
I’ve never had a vet prescribe ointment for any of the dogs we’ve rescued with skin allergies. They had special baths, antibiotics, antifungals, and a myriad of other medicines by mouth considering what kind of skin condition the vet thought they had, but I have never been prescribed an ointment.
Do you know why? BECAUSE THEY LICK IT OFF.
So I won’t believe he had ointment for his dog’s skin allergy without seeing a vet bill and prescription for it.
10. He has doghouses with bedding, food and water, and even heat lamps.
Um, wow? Besides the obvious, that NO DOG DESERVES TO LIVE OUTSIDE and instead deserves to have a cushy bed INSIDE the home, I really didn’t see more than a few twigs of straw in the houses, and I didn’t see any food and water either.
And the heat lamp? Appeared to be on a crate INSIDE the home. What’s up with that.
11. Police chief says “because of all the phone calls and e-mails he couldn’t have responded to ‘something serious.'”
Come on! That’s the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. Not only could he have certainly responded to ‘something serious’ but this comment in and of itself is exactly the problem.
Dogs are considered unimportant in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of law enforcement.If they HAD taken the problem seriously, the phone calls would have immediately stopped and the dog would have been safely inside and warm, and perhaps on her way to the vet.
12. Check the facts before posting on social media.
Hmmm. Ok, let’s check the facts. Yep, looks like we had our facts straight. Dog outside? Check. Dog has skin condition and low body fur to survive chained in the winter cold? Check and check.
13. Gave Samantha to a rescue group.
Well, then? I guess all’s well that ends well. I’d call that was a good day for Samantha.
Looks like you’re on your way to a new and better life, girl. Have a great one! Run, play, snuggle, do all those things that normal dogs get to do and you were deprived of. You sure deserve your happy ending.
14. Big FAIL for the OHIO POLICE and the TV STATION.
While your dogs sit inside cushy and warm, you condone and defend those who allow their dogs to suffer and die in the winter cold. You send a message that this behavior is acceptable and perpetuate the real crime against all of doghood: that chaining a dog outside for life is status quo when in fact it isn’t and it never will be.
We will not stop doing what is right and standing for the abused.We suggest that you use the two eyes you have to see the neglect right in front of you and do something about it, rather than defending the abuser.
P.S. To Anyone who may or may not have acted out with violence
Seriously. If anyone DID hold a gun on this guy or his family? That’s effed up. Two wrongs don’t make a right and all that.
You only give the dog owners who mistreat their pets ammo to paint themselves as the victims. Don’t do it.
Yesterday the real victim—the dog—got to safety and will get to know a loving, inside home and family. That’s what’s important.
Thank you so much to the Underdog Society-Knox County Dog Rescue who stepped up to rescue Samantha. If you’d like help with her vet bills, please fill out the form for our Hero Fund grant at this link, and we’ll be happy to help her on to a new and happier life: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/hero.html.
A cold spell is sweeping the nation, and I watch sadly as people frantically beg online and to authorities for help for chained dogs left out in frigid temperatures near them; knowing that for most help will not come.
Will these dogs die this time, this winter, today?
Would a more appropriate question be not WILL THEY die but HOW MANY will die this time, this winter, today?
And when these precious and helpless creatures DO die, frozen to the ground on their chains, neighbors who have watched the dog suffer (but were too afraid to take matters into their own hands) will bear the guilt of the dog’s death in addition to their own feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and anger at a system that’s let them down and the dog down.
The choices for a caring neighbor forced to watch a dog try and fail to survive in sub-freezing temperatures will become 1. take the dog, aka PROPERTY OF ANOTHER, into their warm homes or the vet’s office and risk being arrested for it, OR 2. to protect themselves and stand by and watch the dog die at the end of the chain.
The heartless and soulless humans who left these dogs—dogs who depend on them for empathy and kindness—out on that chain in frigid temperatures to die will not suffer a moment’s remorse for their actions. That I can guarantee you.
I become very depressed when a cold spell hits, and I feel immense guilt that I am sleeping all snug in my bed while dogs are dying out there in the freezing temperatures.
I personally feel the weight of each suffering dog on my shoulders and I feel like it’s all my fault that I haven’t succeeded in freeing every chained dog in America during my 12.5 years with Dogs Deserve Better.
This isn’t logical, of course, and I know that there’s no way I could have or should have been expected to personally free millions of dogs on my own. Yet I have a hard time releasing that guilt and just moving forward to the best of my ability.
Today I want to talk about the emotional distress that caring humans feel when forced to watch a chained dog suffer in the cold.
Let’s face it, there’s something ‘off’ about anyone who puts a dog on a chain and thinks it’s acceptable under the best of conditions. Throughout history, those who oppress others (human and animals alike) have justified their actions and behavior with such ludicrous phrases as “he/she likes it out there. He/she isn’t suffering. He/she is happy.”
This is what we hear daily at Dogs Deserve Better when speaking to caretakers of chained dogs. “He likes it out there. He hates the house.”
One wonders, are these people truly without emotions, or have they just blocked off emotions with regard to the oppressed in order to continue the abuse which—for whatever reason—is convenient and easier for them?
When it comes to dog chaining, I’m constantly asked by our supporters (with confused expressions) “Why do they have a dog at all if they’re just going to chain him/her outside?”
I think, outside of nefarious reasons for chaining dogs such as dogfighting, most people leave dogs on chains because it’s easier for them than bringing them inside to live.
Perhaps their father did it, and without a strong moral compass that tells them not to blindly follow in their father’s footsteps, they just continue the pattern without a thought to the suffering of the animal.
It’s true that living with dogs is akin to living with children. When you come home from the store, there is no guarantee you won’t see garbage strewn across your kitchen floor, or the chewed-up, missing limb from your coffee table.
You co-exist with dog hair, tell visitors to wear their shoes inside to save yourself embarrassment, and clean up poop/pee/vomit at inconvenient and annoying times and places.
But if you’re going to live with a dog, you must accept these conditions in exchange for the benefits of loving and caring for a fur creature that gives back as much as he/she takes.
Or, you can just take the easy way out and toss the dog out on a chain without a thought as to what the dog deserves.
I go up against people who chain their dogs way too often in court, and they will lie through their teeth in order to ‘get you’. Morals are not their strong suit, which is completely obvious given that they keep their ‘Best Friend’ on a chain in the backyard next to the garbage can.
Police and judges almost always (in my case, always) side with the dog abusers. Whether our society has evolved to a police state, or those in positions of power are just set on maintaining status quo and property rights is something that could be the subject of endless debate.
Whatever the case may be, there’s a good chance that if a caring citizen tries to get help for a chained or penned dog from authorities, they will be sorely disappointed.
If animal control or the police actually DO help you and make the owners take the dog inside tonight, great! Wonderful! Call it a day and go eat some pizza. You’ve done well, and the officer is to be commended.
If not, you are left with one heluva dilemma and one heluva load of emotional distress for which there is no end in sight. It’s disheartening, to put it mildly.
How can you possibly crawl into your bed tonight and know that the dog next door is struggling just to survive the night? That each moment through which you blissfully sleep is just one more moment of torture for a being who has done nothing wrong, has committed no crime, and wants nothing more than to be part of a home and family?
This emotional distress caused to caring neighbors is an extension of the abuse caused to the dog by those who chain, by police and animal control who turn a blind eye, and by judges who uphold owner’s rights to abuse both the animals and caring citizens.
Think about this. Say your home was broken into by armed robbers, and you had to watch as they beat your husband or wife, but you were tied to the chair in the kitchen and you couldn’t physically get up to help. You were helpless to do anything but watch as this beating continued, and someone you love was forced to endure pain beyond their ability to bear. It hurt you almost as much to watch it as it hurt him/her to endure the beatings.
Even IF this happened only once in your lifetime, AND you both survived, odds are quite good you’d be dealing with years of post traumatic stress disorder.
Watching a dog, a creature most of us love and feel an innate urge to protect, go through a similar torture every day on a chain for the 10-12 years of his/her lifespan and feeling helpless to do anything about it creates a similar post traumatic stress in neighbors.
The condition goes completely undiagnosed because the caring human is too embarrassed to even talk about the pain in therapy or with those who aren’t out and out dog lovers.
Most neighbors of chained dogs become depressed from watching the suffering of the dog next door; this is a completely NORMAL human reaction to being forced to watch abuse.
I’m spoken to hundreds of people over the years who cry when they describe the condition of their neighbor’s dog to me. They can’t sleep, they can’t eat, and are an emotional wreck from witnessing the abuse day in and day out.
Something must change.
Before I formed Dogs Deserve Better, I helplessly watched Worthless suffer on his chain for six years. I was obsessed with moving—anywhere else—so that I didn’t have to see his sadness and pain every day.
But I knew wherever I ended up there would just be another dog on another chain; moving wouldn’t solve the problem of what was happening to Worthless and every other unfortunate dog like him stuck out on a chain for life.
If you too are suffering from the trauma of watching a dog on a chain, I am truly sorry, both for you and the dog. I know this same pain, and my heart is with you in suffering each and every day.
If you have tried every method of getting help for the dog—to include speaking to the caretakers and asking authorities for help— and nothing has worked, only YOU can decide if you will act in the face of possible harassment by authorities to save the life of the dog in this or another sub-zero cold spell this winter.
Want my advice? I say you only live once (that you know of, anyway) and even IF you get in trouble for removing a dog from a chain in sub-freezing temperatures, it would be the best possible reason to go down; you will always be proud of yourself for taking the courageous stand.
I know, I’ve done it.
In states with Good Samaritan laws as pertaining to animals (the only one that I know of is Ohio, but there may be more…if you know, please enlighten me), the word is if you act to save the life of an animal you won’t be harmed. I’ve never heard of a case using it yet, but I would always get plenty of evidence before acting.
I recommend that IF you are going to act to save the life of a chained dog, PHOTO DOCUMENT, PHOTO DOCUMENT, PHOTO DOCUMENT. Take both photos and video of the distress of the dog and the outdoor temperatures and conditions before removing him/her from the chain, and either taking him/her into your warm home or to the vet, depending on how dire the circumstances are.
If you live in New York state and run into trouble for helping a chained dog in frigid temperatures, Attorney Matt Albert has pledged to represent you FREE. (Regardless, be SURE to take a ton of photos and video, so he has something to work with in court!)
If you live anywhere else and you are faced with a life and death decision with a dog, I pledge to help you raise the money for attorney’s fees if needed when you take the courageous and morally right actions on the dog’s behalf. I will expect you to provide me with photo and/or video evidence of both the temperatures outside and the distress of the dog.
The bottom line is: ensure you get your evidence, and you get GOOD evidence. Evidence makes all the difference; if not in the courtroom, then definitely in the court of public opinion.
In closing, as an ordained interfaith minister, I hold a firm belief that there are man’s laws and there are God’s laws. All too often man’s laws are in direct violation of God’s laws and go against the conscience of a person of strong moral character.
Please. If you live near a chained dog out in the frigid cold, take EVEN ONE BRAVE ACTION today. Gather your courage; go talk to the caretaker.
If he won’t let you take the dog inside and refuses to take the dog inside himself, gather up ten neighbors who agree that enough is enough and go back WITH A PACK OF HUMANS STANDING STRONG AND TOGETHER. There is safety and strength in numbers.
We are stronger together, and we must stand together in order to stop animal abuse.
I’ve found that the best cure for my depression in the winter is to take action on behalf of chained dogs. You’ll find it helps you too.
I went for the fundraiser for #GivingTuesday that I really wanted to make happen; but I was terrified to push that button, to hit send on the e-mail. Why?
Because my idea is pretty much guaranteed to fail.
I mean, how can I think 687,000 people will give DDB just $1.00 each, when I’m lucky if I can get my kids to text me back, or my dog to come when I call him?
Yeah it’s a pretty ludicrous notion.
But wouldn’t it be so simple, and so lovely, if we could all just give $1 to every cause that mattered to us? I think we’d change the world! I see the vision of what COULD be possible for our animal friends, and it brings a big smile to my face.
So I pushed the button, and I hit send. To report: halfway through #GivingTuesday we have raised $1790 from 69 donors. Yes, we’re hella shy of 687,000 donors and $687,000 dollars, but guess what?
I’m proud of those who have already donated, and so thankful for you all. I’m hopeful we will continue to see #GivingTuesday donations for our wing addition throughout the night. Here are the links if you can donate even $1.
Truth is, I don’t know how to raise the money we need to move ahead as an organization. I hoped if we all did some small part then it would be a hardship for none.
I need a bigger space for our dogs, so we can rescue double the dogs, and I can’t do that without money. To the tune of $300,000 to build anything of acceptable quality and space. Our dogs deserve a home environment; if we expect people to see the value in dogs, we have to put them in a place that showcases their value, that believes in them the way Dogs Deserve Better (and you) believe in them.
In terms of annual budget, when we are able to build, we’ve only fought half the battle. Because if we double the dogs we have to double the staff and a trainer, measuring up to a whopping $225,000 once you include all the taxes and such. And did we even mention vet care yet? Gulp.
So pardon me, if for today I’m going to go back to my Pie in the Sky Vision of What Could Be. I need to believe that we can somehow make this happen, and for today I will believe in the possibilities. Because I believe that our dogs deserve a facility where they can go and learn how to be REAL dogs. And somehow we need to make that happen for them.
If all 687,000 of our Facebook fans donated JUST ONE DOLLAR on #GivingTuesday, DDB could build our rescue dog wing AND staff it for a year!
Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit freeing dogs from chains and bringing them into homes and families, has exciting plans drawn up for a rescue ‘bedroom wing’ to add to our existing 4600 sq. ft. building so we can double the number of chained dogs we can free, train, socialize, and put into wonderful lives with wonderful families.
Yes, we have plans, but what we don’t have? The funding to get us there.
Our Facebook and social media family has been amazingly supportive of our rescued dogs, and we’re wondering if all 687,000 of our fans chipped in just $1.00 on #GivingTuesday how far that could take us?
All the way for this dream, actually!
Plans and current cost estimates to build 12-14 ‘bedrooms’ for the dogs is about $300,000. Cost to employ four full time staff members to care for, train, and socialize the dogs for 13.5 hours a day for a year is approximately $225,000.
As it turns out, creating a dream rescue for dogs who come from nothing isn’t cheap. Or easy.
But don’t they Deserve Better than Life at the End of a Chain? It is the goal of Dogs Deserve Better to give our rescued chainef dogs a facility that is much better than a traditional shelter. A place where they can learn what it is to be a real dog—where they get the vet care and training they need to move on to loving, inside homes and families.
Dogs Deserve Better owns and operates the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs in Smithfield, Va. We transport dogs to the Good Newz Center from all across the nation—even from as far away as Houston, Texas, and Forks, Washington.
In 2011 we took over the property where football player Michael Vick housed his dogfighting compound; there dogs were chained, penned, forced to fight, and brutally killed if they didn’t perform well.
Today, our dogs romp through the same field where dogs used to live chained. Every dog runs twice a day in our seven-acre fenced field and then comes back inside the home where formerly dogs were not allowed. They enjoy the fireplace in what was once a living room, and take baths in the jacuzzi tubs and shower of what was once the master bedroom.
Dogs are socialized and trained in groups for 13.5 hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., both by staff and our behavioral therapist who visits twice a week to work with both staff and dogs.
These dogs come from nothing, and don’t know how to live with people or other dogs. They have never been to the vet, never ridden in a car, never been inside a home.
All this is taught to them by staff and volunteers They are loved, provided with vet care, trained, adopted into loving homes with loving families.
Unfortunately, because we are currently working from what was previously a house, the state of Virginia has limited the number of dogs we can rescue at any given time to 13 until we build a wing with quarters they will approve.
Our dogs currently stay in group socialization rooms, and can be inside or out through doggie doors all day long. They sleep, eat, and nap in crates for their safety.
With our wing, will be able to immediately DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF DOGS we can work with at any given time, upping our number to 26-28 doggie residents. Each room will have two dog beds, indoor/outdoor access, and homelike features to get dogs used to living inside the home and going outside to do their business.
Dogs will still be trained and socialized in group settings, but when they are not in group they will have safe yet spacious areas in which to sleep and play.
This expansion will prove of benefit to at least 120 dogs per year, plus ease the minds of caring citizens and neighbors of chained dogs who have to watch these dogs suffer. With more room, we can free more dogs, and that in turn frees more people from the pain of witnessing what is in most cases legal cruelty.
So what do you say? Let’s RAISE THE ROOF FOR RESCUE DOGS on #GivingTuesday. We chose Razoo because we have many opportunities with them to RAISE EVEN MORE MONEY. They are giving out prizes all day long, so please donate and ask your friends to give even $1.00 each.
Yesterday I had to be in court in Tyrone, PA, on two charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct for my failed attempts to help this Bellwood, PA dog. Read my previous blogs for more info, or get caught up on the case here: http://dogsdeservebetter.org/papoliceabusepower.html
Since these were just summary charges (think traffic tickets—only more annoying—and majorly trumped up at that), I chose to act as my own attorney.
In hindsight, it’s a good thing I didn’t go to law school; then I would have no excuse for the way I get chewed up and spit out in the courtroom.
They couldn’t find any reason at all to convict me on trespassing (It wasn’t for lack of trying), as I had photos of the dog standing smack-dab beside the curb of the street.
The magistrate had to drop that charge.
The cop had no direct knowledge of anything that happened that night. Just the word of his ‘witness.’ And this is what they spend tax-payer dollars on…arguing?
He claimed that he called my house to discuss the situation with me before filing charges to get my side of the story, but that is untrue. He said there was no answering machine, but we have two. One takes a message if no one is on the phone, and the other picks up if we’re on the other line. Either way, if you call our home, you will hit an answering machine. He never called, never left a message.
I showed the above photo to the officer to point out how close to the street the dog was, and asked how I could possibly be trespassing with her on the curb.
He said that I could have taken the photo from BEHIND THE DOG.
I’m not even lying about that. Seriously!
How could I POSSIBLY take THIS PHOTO from BEHIND the dog? Bwahaha.
I had to educate the officer on the law with regards to photographing dogs, and, well, anything in the public domain. It is allowed by law as long as it can be photographed and is visible from public property.
This officer thought I had to have the owner’s permission to photograph the dog. Not true.
I’m pretty sure I had the dog’s permission to photograph her, though. A dog who has spent her life tethered is happy for just about any kind of attention that isn’t doing her physical harm. She was sweet, a bit shy, and so attention-starved (and food-starved) it made me sad.
In order to make me sound more criminal, the officer claimed that his witness told him I was “Doing Something With the Dog.”
He made sure to repeat this twice, to ensure that the judge knew just how ominous my behavior was.
I believe that is called “Petting,” Officer.
Here’s the definition in case you run into it again: To show affection through caressing or stroking: i.e. to pet a dog.
On the disorderly conduct—which I like to call “arguing without a purpose”—it was my word against the word of his witness, which is why I saw no point to going to court in the first place.
Good Lord! What she accused me of doing was so ridiculous and over the top that my husband Joe couldn’t contain himself any longer and started cracking up.
Which of course made me want to crack up too. But I know that judges get pretty irate when people laugh in their courtroom, so I tried to keep a handle on the cackling.
She even accused me of threatening to call Children in Youth (or whoever it is, I’m not sure who she said) about her kids having dirty clothes. I would imagine all kids would have dirty clothes in the summer…that means they’re playing. I never even noticed.
I do remember telling her kids that I felt sorry for them that they had to grow up believing this was any kind of way to keep an animal. And I don’t regret that for a minute.
Based on her testimony, either A: I had a blackout and turned into Darth Vader for no apparent good reason, OR B: she was lying through her teeth.
I’m going with B.
Keep in mind, this woman was NOT the dog owner. She was the neighbor across the street. I don’t know her from Adam, don’t care to know her, and I would have no reason to talk to a stranger.
In fact, one of my issues is that I’m incredibly shy in person, and have a very hard time talking to people I don’t know. Logic would tell you that no single woman would go up to a group of four people, two men and two women, and start verbally accosting them out of the blue. Why?
Calling them names? How do you call people names you don’t even know. Wouldn’t you need to at least be angry at them before you took that step?
On and on it went. When I had the chance to question her, she denied the things I knew to be true.
1. The young man, Zach, stated on our facebook page that his uncle is a Bellwood cop. Even though she said she was related to Zach in some way, neither she nor the cop would admit to being related or knowing anyone on the force who was related to them.
2. Denied that Zach almost physically accosted me, but she and her mother or whoever she was pulled him away. She did say he got about five feet away from me (when I walked up to him, yeah, I’m going to walk belligerently up to a young man I don’t even know and what, threaten to beat him up?) at which point in time she went up and ‘gently touched him on the arm to have him back up.’
3. Denied standing in the road, breaking the law of obstructing traffic, when I was trying to drive away. [PA 5507. Obstructing highways and other public passages.(a) Obstructing.–A person, who, having no legal privilege to do so, intentionally or recklessly obstructs any highway, railroad track or public utility right-of-way, sidewalk, navigable waters, other public passage, whether alone or with others, commits a summary offense.]
The magistrate wouldn’t give me the time of day about any claims that the charges were filed seven days after the supposed offenses in an attempt to ‘get even’ with me for inspiring so many phone calls about the dog’s condition to the Bellwood police. The officer did admit to getting a lot of phone calls, but wouldn’t say how many.
The magistrate acted like I had no legal authority to be there, to take photos, or to advocate on behalf of the dog. He was obsessed with the fact that I didn’t call the police. I told him truthfully that it didn’t even cross my mind.
But I not only have the legal authority to advocate on behalf of any dog or child who is suffering, I have the moral obligation to do so. And so do you.
After twelve years of working with and for chained dogs, I have an expertise in the field of chaining and the cruelty laws that most people don’t have. I can look at a dog’s situation and tell instantly if the situation would break existing cruelty laws (if anyone bothered to uphold them), and if it’s worthwhile to even attempt to get the dog legal help.
That’s always a big IF.
What I didn’t tell him was that the reason it didn’t cross my mind is because my personal interaction with police has ALWAYS landed on the side of the abuser. 100% of the time.
(Make that 95%. I do remember one time a state policeman went to a home that had no doghouse in Cambria County, PA, and forced them to buy a doghouse. That was something, anyway.)
This is just another case in point.
The magistrate had absolutely no respect for me as an animal advocate or a human being. He acted like I was just a sheeple who is obligated to hand over every interaction on a dog’s behalf to authorities.
But I’m not, and neither are you. We have the power of the people to bring action on behalf of dogs. We don’t have to listen to those in positions of power who expect us to shut our eyes and obey.
Hitler thought that way too, didn’t he?
I broke no laws that night, and they trumped up offenses to punish me. That is the bottom line.
I received a $50 fine and court expenses in the hundreds. It cost me $177 for the two constables to come and pick me up at the Bellwood police station, handcuff me, and drive me to the magistrates office 5 miles away.
The total they expect me to pay is in the neighborhood of $470.
I informed the judge that I’m not willing to pay and requested jail time.
He refused. He said I have to wait until I’m in violation for not paying and they put out another warrant for my arrest. And then something about requiring an attorney. Which I won’t hire. So we will be back at square one again.
It all gets very exhausting, but I firmly believe it’s necessary and I’m obligated to continue to practice passive resistance on behalf of animal activists the world over; and one Bellwood dog who still deserves better.
We do have the power of the people, and we are in the beginning stages of changing the world for animals. Those of us currently on the front lines must stand strong in the face of ridicule, abuse of power, and lies by those in control. It’s the only way change has ever been made in this world.
We taped the hearing yesterday, but I haven’t yet had the courage to listen to it and subject myself to their lies and abuse a second time. When I do so, if it is of decent quality and it makes me laugh, I’ll share some of the best parts with you all.
I believe in the power of laughter to uplift and renew. If I couldn’t laugh at the stuff that happens to me later with my husband Joe, I don’t think I would have lasted nearly this long.
My favorite funny of this whole incident so far has been the dog owner calling me “an old fat whore hog” on facebook. Obviously, it doesn’t get much more offensive that that, but it’s so damn funny, that sometimes I just roll laughing thinking about it.
On the bright side, my husband Joe made the four hour drive to support me yesterday, proudly wearing his shirt with the Dogs Deserve Better emblem. He has been at every single hearing or difficult situation within driving distance that I’ve had to face down since we started dating five years ago. I will never be able to express how much his support has meant to me through all this.
And, an adopter from Blandburg, PA, Taylor Hinckley, came to the hearing to support me. She gave me the below card and a photo of the dog she adopted from Dogs Deserve Better.
Just when I feel so diminished and down and out from the abuse the system hands out to me for speaking up, God sends an angel to lift me and remind me that I have value and have had many successes on behalf of those without a voice.
Thank you, to both Joe and Taylor for showing me people can still be good. I needed that.
Well, folks, we’ve hit THAT time of year. What time of year would that be, you say?
That time of year—aka WINTER—where Dogs Deserve Better’s phones ring off the hook with people desperate for help for a freezing dog on a chain or in a pen next door.
What many folks don’t know or don’t understand is that in most parts of the U.S., it is still perfectly legal to force a dog to live on a chain 24/7/365.
Cruel? You bet your bottom dollar. But—in most cases—legal.
Dogs Deserve Better, and many other groups small and large, want to put an end to this (how shall I term it elegantly) BS.
There are laws in about 200-300 cities, counties and a handful of states that limit the amount time a dog can remain tethered—see this link for a listing of most of the current laws on the books. Note that there are fifteen states listed as having some kind of tethering laws on the books statewide, but most of these laws say only that you can’t CRUELLY chain a dog. Alas, in most cases of typical chaining, humane officers or animal control officers don’t consider the mere act of chaining to be cruel, rendering the law a rather useless addendum to animal cruelty statutes.
The best state law on the books comes from California, where one cannot chain a dog for more than three hours at a time, and even that’s supposed to be only to ‘complete a temporary task.’ Unfortunately, it’s still legal to affix a dog in California to a trolley line—a glorified tether—or throw the dog in a pen for life. That, I’m afraid to say, is legal pretty much anywhere.
I formed Dogs Deserve Better because I, like most of the citizens who reside in the U.S., was horrified that in 2002 it was still legal to chain a dog in America.
I had no idea that I couldn’t get help from authorities for the dogs I saw rotting away at the end of a chain when I moved back to Pennsylvania after my stint in the U.S. Air Force and finishing college in the MD/DC area. When I tried and was told repeatedly by an unsympathetic humane officer that there was nothing I could do about the suffering I was forced to witness, I felt anger, helplessness, hopelessness; and then finally determination to do something about it.
I myself come from a family of chainers. Granted, it was much more prominent in the 1960s and 70s than it is today, but, even then, I knew it was wrong.
How can you look at a dog living on a chain and not know in your gut that it’s wrong?
Here’s a quote illustrating this certain knowledge that I loved from this article: ““Even if you don’t know that not tethering is a law [in California], you’d have to be an idiot to not know that keeping an animal on a stake is so 1950s junkyard-dog,” Welsh said. “You have to be totally insensitive to put your dog in the backyard tied to a tree. If people see a dog tied to a porch, fence or stake, they should call us and we’ll go out.”
I grew up on a 108-acre farm in the tiny village of St. Augustine, in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. We had two dogs, Gally, a black lab, and Maggie, a beagle. Neither of these dogs was allowed to live inside the home with us, but Gally had it better than Maggie. He was free to roam the farm and find all kinds of trouble, including his penchant for dragging home dog food bags from parts unknown and rolling in dead animals to achieve a repugnant pungence that only he seemed to appreciate.
Maggie, on the other hand, was ostensibly a hunting hound, but to my knowledge she never left that chain until the day my brother lost her in the woods. Her’s was a sad and lonely existence, and I hope and pray that my work for those of her kind can begin to make up for what my family did to her by leaving her chained for life.
So, let’s say now you find yourself in the same quandary I did when I moved back to Pennsylvania in 1995 and bought a house only 1/4 mile from the dog you see above, ‘Worthless’. (No, I didn’t call him that, his owners did).
You are living next door to or seeing a dog chained in the cold—day in and day out.
Rain, snow, sleet, hail; heat, cold. None of that matters, the dog is still out there, alone, freezing, wondering what he/she did wrong to be ostracized from the pack, the family, and begging to get back in.
What to do, what to DO?
Here are some steps I recommend for you to follow, and maybe, just maybe, you will work some magic for the voiceless, suffering being whose only hope may very well be YOU.
1. Research your laws and educate yourself to them.
As I said above, there ARE communities that do have laws limiting the time a dog may live chained. You want to educate yourself on your local chaining laws; because if you don’t, animal control will take advantage of the fact that you are uninformed and use it to blow you off.
If you find nothing on either site, contact your local city or county administration office and find out what your animal cruelty laws are, which would be in addition to your state cruelty laws.
In general, here’s the way laws operate: A state can have a law, say, a law limiting chaining to three hours a day like California. A county or city can then implement a STRICTER law, but NOT a looser law. Say, then, Los Angeles could come along and create a stronger law than the state law, banning the chaining of dogs altogether, but they couldn’t create a looser law, say one limiting chaining to ten hours a day. Does that make sense? So if you live in California, there’s a chance you have your state law, which is three hours, PLUS a local law which could limit chaining or penning even further.
2. If your State or Local Community has a Law Limiting Chaining.
If you have a state or local law banning or limiting chaining, you ARE AMONG THE LUCKY ONES! COUNT YOURSELF BLESSED. In theory, this would mean that you could call your local animal control and they would come along, issue a warning or have a little talk with the owner, and the dog would be taken inside or given up to animal control if the caretakers didn’t want to comply with the law. Happily ever after. (As long as someone goes along and rescues the dog from animal control, of course.) Unfortunately, this happy turn of events is pretty rare.
If you have a state law and the law is blatantly ignored or broken and animal control won’t do anything about it, then you have to force the issue. Follow the steps listed below to take further action on behalf of the dog.
3. If your State or Local Community DOESN’T have a Law Limiting Chaining.
If you don’t have a state or local law banning or limiting chaining, BEND OVER AND KISS YOUR A@$ GOODBYE, cause you’re in for a rough ride. Bwahaha. Sorry, I couldn’t resist!
But it is dire, mostly for the dog; and for you too, if you’re hoping to get a good night’s sleep at all this winter.
By now you will have researched your state laws and at least know what the general cruelty laws say. At a minimum, all states have a law that roughly reads “a dog must have food, water, shelter, and veterinary care”. If the dog doesn’t have these things, or the dog is severely underweight or has some other malady or injury, you still have a shot at animal control or humane officers taking some kind of action on behalf of the dog.
I estimate—from my 13+ years experience in working to free chained dogs all over the U.S.—that about 20% of animal control officers qualify as ‘good guys.’ These are folks, men and women, who actually BELIEVE that chaining is not the way to keep a dog and doesn’t meet a dog’s needs, and even if they don’t have a law on the books, these people will go out of their way to creatively educate the owners or find that the method of chaining or the fact that they are chaining at all is cruel. I LOVE THESE OFFICERS!
If you’re lucky enough to find one of this 20%, you have a good chance of making real change on behalf of the dog.
Unfortunately, that leaves 80% that don’t qualify, in my opinion, as ‘good guys.’ These officers could care less about the dog, or even if they do have a dog at home that lives inside and they don’t personally believe in chaining, they uphold the letter of the law and refuse to make any waves or encourage people with chained dogs to do better.
Sometimes—quite often actually—these officers MAKE YOU OUT TO BE THE BAD GUY instead of the dog chainer, which is very upsetting to someone who just wants the best for a dog who lives in bad conditions.
4. Speak to the Caretakers About the Dog.
This step should come next IF YOU DON’T HAVE A TETHERING LAW. It is my opinion that this should be tried before calling animal control if there is no law to protect the dog, because once you call animal control, they will be pissed and you won’t have a chance of getting through to them.
This step takes a lot of courage; if you can make yourself buddy buddy up to the caretaker, you have a better chance of getting them to give you the dog, OR at least better the dog’s living conditions.
Sometimes, they simple say ‘take the dog, I don’t want him/her anymore anyway,’ and you can have what is literally the BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE BECAUSE YOU GET TO FREE THIS PRECIOUS BEING (have them hand write a transfer of ownership to you for your protection) and set him/her on to a better life.
Sometimes, they listen to what you have to say but show absolutely no interest in bettering life for their dog or allowing you to help or walk the dog.
Sometimes, they get crazy and scream and yell no matter how nice you are, and you have to hightail it out of there before things get too ugly.
The last one happens a lot.
But, no matter what, after this step you know where things stand, and you know if you can make any headway on your own.
5. Report the Dog and the Address to Animal Control or your local Humane Officer.
In all cases, if talking to the neighbors doesn’t work, report the address to your local animal control or humane officer. Even if they do nothing, (which is what happens in most cases), at least they go out and look at the dog, and then both the local authorities AND the owners know that citizens don’t want to see dogs living outside anymore.
I believe we CAN AND WILL change society by raising our voices. We can’t be quiet about it.
6. If Animal Control or the Humane Officer does nothing, here are the ways Dogs Deserve Better can get involved.
If you believe the dog’s situation is illegal, take photos and fill out this form: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/chainedaddresses.html. It is best if you give us a way to contact you so we can discuss the situation and help you to help the dog. However, if the photos are egregious and show definite illegalities (and you still want to be anonymous), we can find other local people to confirm and work with animal control to hopefully get help for the dog/s.
If you believe the dog’s situation is not illegal, but know like we do that it is immoral and cruel, then fill out the form, and you can remain anonymous. We will mail educational information to the dog’s caretakers in hopes that they will do better for their dog. http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/chainedaddresses.html
7. If the situation is really illegal and the dogs are in bad shape but animal control and/or the police are not helping, get us photos right away and we will put public pressure on the officials.Or, create your own facebook page or post about the dogs with the photos, and ask us to crosspost it for you.
I’m working a case right now on our Facebook page with skeletal dogs that a citizen posted photos of. (It’s a status, so it may not be there if you don’t click it tonight. https://www.facebook.com/dogsdeservebetter?pnref=story) I networked with the citizen, downloaded the photos, got the numbers for animal control and the police in Corpus Christi Texas, and put them on our facebook with requests for calls. People are calling like crazy! It can and does work.
DDB’s volunteer and rescue coordinator Robin Budin usually oversees these cases for us, and we have a good deal of success with them. There is strength and power in numbers, so we all have to stick together! If dogs are suffering and nothing is being done, good photos of the situation can compel people to make the calls on behalf of the dogs. When law enforcement receives enough phone calls about a situation, often something is done.
If you are in this kind of situation and need immediate help for a dog or dogs that are in bad shape, e-mail Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to send photos and your contact information so she can help you.
8. Make an End Run Around Cruelty Laws by Reporting Noise Violations
Most dogs left out in the backyard on a chain or in a pen bark. A lot. And then they bark some more. Why? Because they are cold, bored, lonely, sad, angry, frustrated, hopeless, helpless, injured, dying, praying you’ll notice them. You get the picture.If the dog is in distress, odds are good that he or she is barking.
Most cities and counties have noise ordinances, where you can’t make a ton of noise after say 10:00 p.m. Check your locality for the ordinance that is in effect there, and use it to your advantage.
If nothing else has worked, this could be the way around the situation. With enough noise violations, the owner will either have to take his/her dog inside, or relinquish the dog to animal control.If that happens, and you care about that dog, PLEASE go get him/her out of animal control! With owner surrenders, they are authorized to kill the dog very quickly, so if you care about the dog enough to make a stink on his/her behalf, then go rescue him/her from animal control and either find a group to take the dog or adopt him/her yourself.
It is worth your while to adopt that dog and give him the life he never had before; you will have no better feeling than seeing this dog sleeping on your couch or his own dog bed this holiday season. I promise you that.
9. Work on Chain-ging Laws.
I almost forgot this step, and aside from helping one single dog starfish style, this is the most important step! If your city or county doesn’t have a law, take on the task of creating and getting one passed.Laws get chain-ged by citizens like you and I that take it on and don’t stop until we succeed. The state level is very difficult, but the city and local laws are not AS hard to get passed. Visit our Get Laws page for many good articles and suggestions for you. By chain-ging a law, you help many many dogs as opposed to just the few you manage to salvage from a backyard situation. http://dogsdeservebetter.org/laws.html
Yep, it’s that time of year, folks. Let’s not go into it unprepared this year. Good luck, and please be a voice for the dogs near you. They need our help, and we are often all that stands between them and certain death at the end of a chain.
I then got an anonymous tip that the dog and ‘oh-so-caring’ owner moved right beside one of the Bellwood Funeral Homes, up from where Cornmesser’s used to be. (That’s Bellwood talk. Cornmesser’s was an old hardware store that was on the corner of Main Street … forever. Now it’s a daycare, but if you were around long enough, you still refer to it as Cornmesser’s.)
The tip told me that the poor dog has already been barking all night long at the new location, and neighbors have been complaining. The owner has been warned that if he/she keeps barking at night he will be fined.
Dogs Deserve Better stands ready to take this dog into our rescue at a moment’s notice. If anyone can talk the owner into releasing this poor creature to rescue, give us a call at 757-357-9292 or send us an e-mail at email@example.com and we will be more than happy to find him/her a new, INSIDE home and family.
The photos make me feel sad; sad that he/she doesn’t have the loving kindness she/he deserves and is forced to huddle on the cement stairs begging to be let in.
I wrote this for the dog:
I stretch my red tether,
crawl under the railing
So I can be closer.
I huddle on the step
hard cold cement
Hoping you’ll see me.
Green paint in my fur,
lost hope in my eyes
How long will I wait?
—Tamira Ci Thayne
Tamira Thayne on the fight to free Man's Best Friend