National Unchain a Dog Month: Our Best Friends Need Us
In many parts of the country winter months are harsh. Snow, wind and freezing temps can make it unbearable to remain outside for very long. And this is why January has been officially called “Unchain a Dog Month.”
Backyard dogs are particularly vulnerable to cold weather. Dogs who are either chained up or permanently penned outside have nowhere to go to escape the harsh winter weather. And while some people believe a standard dog house makes an “adequate enough” shelter, these houses are not insulated or heated and provide little protection from snow and freezing temps. The reality is that backyard dogs can easily suffer from frostbite and dehydration when their water supply freezes.
We also have to mention that beyond requiring proper nutrition, fresh water and a safe place to live in all seasons, what dogs really want, more than anything, is just to be loved. To be part of the family. To curl up next to you as you binge watch Netflix. This is their idea of Heaven. Keeping a dog chained outside year-round is not only deadly to their physical health, but also to their mental and emotional health.
There is a phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” We believe it also takes a village to care for an animal. We must all do our part to look out for those dogs in our community who may not be getting the care, attention and love they deserve.
How Can You Help?
If you yourself keep a dog chained or penned outside all year long, please consider bringing them inside for the winter months. If they are not really considered part of your family, consider bringing them to a no-kill shelter where they will be able to be adopted into a new family who will keep them inside.
What can you do if you know of a pup in your neighborhood or community who is chained outside all winter? There are a few different steps you can take:
Speak to the Human
There are some people who simply don’t know what dogs really need to thrive. Some people simply think of all animals as livestock or ‘outdoor’ animals. See if you can build a rapport with this person or family and share with them important pet care tips. Do your best, always remaining as respectful and pleasant as possible, to convince them of the importance of bringing their dog inside. You may or may not have success.
If they refuse to bring their dog in, suggest that they provide their dog with proper shelter. A heated dog house is ideal. Many won’t go for this so suggest a wooden dog house. Wood will insulate better than plastic or metal. The key is to stuff that dog house with plenty of straw to block out any wind and so the dog can curl up and be warm. And ideally there should be some sort of door flap that keeps the snow and wetness out.
Sponsor a Dog
Some people or families don’t have the money to buy a dog house and straw. If you do, ask if it would be okay if you purchased the necessary supplies on their behalf. While you’re at it, you may want to pick up a few toys for the pup. If the dog seems starved for attention, ask if it would be okay for you to visit or even walk the dog for them. Again, depending on the person, some will be amenable and some won’t.
Adopt the Dog
For many of us, it is unthinkable to treat a dog as anything less than a cherished member of the family. But there are those people who don’t share this feeling. If you have the space, ability, and finances to take on another furry family member, you may want to consider offering to adopt the dog in your neighborhood or community who is chained outside. Some people will be open if there is perhaps some money offered for the adoption. Imagine getting to bring a dog – who has only known life in a backyard – into your home and spoiling them rotten!
Contact the Authorities
Sadly, you will run into those people who are incredibly stubborn and not very friendly. Though you may have kindly and gently offered to help in numerous ways, they will basically tell you to “mind your own business.”
Most cities and local towns have humane society officers and a 24-hour cruelty hotline. You can check with your local SPCA organization for help as well. We must all act as the voice for those that have no voice.
More than anything, dogs want love and companionship from humans. If they had their choice, they would be inside with their human family 24/7.
If you currently have a dog and think it’s ok to keep them tied up outside their entire life, think again. More and more states are passing laws to help protect the rights of these beautiful animals. In 1996, the USDA issued a statement calling “ continuous confinement of dogs by a tether” inhumane. Hopefully in the very near future, all states will have laws protecting animals from cruelty, neglect and outright abuse.
If you see a dog chained outside this winter, please take the necessary steps to help them.
Frostbite Must be Treated Immediately – Pet Insurance Can Help
Even those dogs who are cherished family members can become victims to the cold of winter if taken on long walks during particularly frigid days. A dog’s paws and nose are particularly susceptible to frostbite. Should your pup get frostbite this winter, it’s important you bring them into the vet immediately.
A vet emergency can be costly, which is why we always recommend pet parents enroll their fur babies into a comprehensive pet insurance plan. Many plans start as low as $10 a month and some will reimburse up to 90% of the vet bill.
Get your pup the care she deserves and the peace of mind you desire and take 2 minutes to get a free quote.
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- “On July 2, 1996, the USDA issued a statement calling “ continuous confinement of dogs by a tether” inhumane.” Retrieved from: https://www.peta.org/features/january-unchain-dog/
- Unchain a Dog Month 2023 – https://nationaltoday.com/unchain-dog-month/
- “Chaining & tethering Dogs: Unchain a Dog Month,” Retrieved from: https://charitypaws.com/chaining-tethering-dogs/