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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue


Pet parents urged to stop chaining dogs outside

Pet parents across the United States who perpetually chain their dogs outside are being urged to bring their companions inside because "chaining for life" is considered to be a form of animal neglect and cruelty.

To call attention to the problem, Dogs Deserve Better, a rescue organization in Tipton, Pennsylvania, sent 12,113 Valentines messages - most created by schoolchildren - to dog owners during its Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week, February 7 to 14.

The Valentine packet - which includes a brochure for the dog’s caretakers that explains why chaining dogs for their lives is a form of neglect - encourages people to bring their dogs inside or to find better homes for them.

"I promise to spread love - not fleas - was one child's Valentine promise to a guardian if the dog was brought inside," Tamira Thayne, the organization's founder, states in an e-mail.

The Valentine's were made by 179 different groups and individuals, many of them schoolchildren, throughout the United States, according to Thayne. "Although we missed our goal of 12,500 Valentines by a mere 387 dogs, we still delivered Valentines to 1,678 more dogs in 2009 than 2008," she states.

Last year's campaign reached 10,435 dogs.

The Dogs Deserve Better annual campaign depends on schoolchildren and youth groups to make the Valentines that are sent out . Many schoolchildren and teachers sent letters along with the Valentines to Dogs Deserve Better.

The Concord-Merrimack County SPCA Paws Club of New Hampshire, which has 11 children ages 6 to 11, was one of the groups that made Valentines for the campaign. "They enjoyed making them with the thought that they will be helping a chained dog," Shannon Camara wrote in a letter.

Nicole Kress-Scheidmantel, a teacher at TA Lowery Elementary School in Jefferson County, West Virginia, said her students made Valentines for the cause after reading the book "Puddles on the Floor." The students "were truly brought to tears at some moments in the story," she wrote. "It has really opened some eyes, as some families keep their dogs outside."

And Bonnie Pustay of Pennsylvania said her 13-year-old neice, Rebecca Klaumenzer, a volunteer at a local animal shelter, was quite enthusiastic about joining the cause. "She insisted on buying and enclosing the stamps needed to mail her Valentines," Pustay wrote.

States and cities have started to pass laws against the practice of perpetual chaining of dogs. California passed a law in 2006 and Texas followed suit in 2007. Hundreds of cities have passed, or are considering, similar legislation.
But the practice is still pervasive in many parts of the country, especially in rural areas, according Dogs Deserve Better. Many "backyard dogs" suffer through cold days and nights in leaky, uninsulated doghouses and go thirsty because their water is frozen.

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Dogs 'desperately' needing care rescued in Missouri; 100 missing
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200 dogs had to share single bag of food in Oregon
Hoarder crams 300 dogs into old schoolhouse
45 dogs rescued from Kansas 'dog factory' need homes
CSI methods being used in animal cruelty cases
300 dogs rescued from 'years of neglect'
285 dogs rescued from deplorable conditions in Tennessee
283 dogs freed from 'constant confinement' in North Carolina
600 dogs rescued in puppy mill busts near Seattle
More reports and dogs and rescue

Dogs Deserve Better provides services to people who agree to take their dogs off their chains, including providing help with socialization, house training and fencing. Visit http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/ for more information about the annual Valentine program and the organization's services.

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