Yesterday a tragic, but preventable, incident occurred. A dog who was tethered to a tree outside his apartment broke loose and killed 2 other dogs. According to neighbors, the dog in question was often tethered outside alone with little interaction from his owners.
Tethering is the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object, such as a tree or stake, as a means of keeping the animal restrained. Tethering can be safely used to restrain a dog outdoors in a number of situations, such as when the property is not fenced, or when the dog is a fence jumper. Mended Hearts Rescue requires that our adopted dogs be properly restrained while outdoors for the safety of the dog, and we advocate the humane and appropriate use of tethers when necessary. Dogs allowed to run loose are at risk of being struck by cars and other perils.
However, it is well known by the animal care community that tethering dogs for extended periods of time can be a dangerous practice. Besides being inhumane to the dog, continuous tethering creates a dangerous situation for other animals and humans.
According to the Humane Society of the United States:
Dogs tethered for long periods can become highly aggressive. Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted with a perceived threat, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. A chained dog, unable to take flight, often feels forced to fight, attacking any unfamiliar animal or person who unwittingly wanders into his or her territory.
Numerous attacks on people by tethered dogs have been documented. Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often children who are unaware of the chained dog’s presence until it is too late. Furthermore, a tethered dog who finally does get loose from his chains may remain aggressive, and is likely to chase and attack unsuspecting passersby and pets.
Indianapolis has laws on the books intended to address the dangers posed by continuous tethering. It is unlawful … to tether or confine an animal at a vacant structure or premises for any purpose or time when it is not monitored by a competent adult who is present at the property for the duration of such tethering or confinement. Sec. 531-401. – General requirements for animal care and treatment.
As is the case with all dog attack incidents, the owner of the dog bears responsibility for not properly controlling his dog. The breed of the dog is irrelevant. What IS relevant is that the owner placed his dog in an inhumane, unlawful circumstance which directly led to the attack on 2 other dogs. If the dog had been properly monitored, as is required by law, this incident could have been prevented. Had neighbors known the law, and reported the situation to the appropriate authorities, this incident could have been avoided.
Please help us spread the word in the community that continuous tethering is dangerous, and illegal. If you see a dog that is continously tethered, please contact Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside, or the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622, 7:30 a.m-5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Please, help keep our communities safe!