Written by Michelle Kretzer
Left out in the cold with no food, water, or shelter, Noel likely
wouldn't have survived more than another two or three days. But thanks to PETA,
the Virginia Beach SPCA, and a local judge, all her days now feel like
A compassionate neighbor called us last
December when she spotted bone-thin Noel, who had been left outside to suffer in the frigid winter
weather. We raced to the residence and found the young dog under a thorn bush, tethered,
tangled, and shivering violently. Not only had Noel's owner failed to take her
inside or even provide her with a doghouse, it appeared that she had also been
denying the dog food and water. The few pieces of stale kibble that had been
tossed her way were scattered across the ground beyond her reach.
When a vet examined Noel, he confirmed
that she had been starved and, at 25 pounds, was barely over half her healthy
weight of 40 pounds. Our friends at the wonderful open-admission Virginia Beach
SPCA found an experienced foster guardian who could nurse Noel back to health,
and she thrived in her new home, quickly gaining 17 pounds and starting to
trust people again. Shortly after Christmas, Noel's new adoptive guardians described
her as the "sweetest, sloppiest kiss-giving, bedtime snuggler."
This week, a judge heard our case against
Noel's former owner and sentenced the woman to 40 hours of community service and one year of
supervised probation, but most importantly, she has been banned for life from ever owning animals again.
You don't have to have the magic of Santa
Claus to help a chained dog. PETA offers a list of lifesaving actions that anyone can take.
routine trip by PETA volunteers to deliver straw bedding to "outdoor dogs" in Newport News, Virginia,
uncovered a horrifying secret: a female
pit bull lying dead in a backyard. Someone had removed her chain,
which meant that the person knew that she was dead, but left her body in full
view of the two surviving chained
The dog's hip bones jutted
prominently through her skin, and every rib in her body was visible.
A PETA staffer took
of the body, and when a veterinarian examined the remains,
that the dog had been starved to the point that she didn't have even an ounce
of fat left. Considering that the dog was only seven months old, she had likely been slowly starved
for her entire life.
Her owner's other two young pit bulls could have starved to death as well, but PETA
got custody of them, too. We collected all the evidence and then filed cruelty charges against the dogs'
fieldworker and veterinarian testified against the owner in court, and the
judge sentenced him to four months in jail, probation for two years, eight more
months in jail if he violates probation, 100 hours of community service, and a
$1,000 fine. Most importantly, the judge barred him from ever owning animals
again, something that we always seek in cases like this.
What You Can Do
Any time that you see a chained dog, please take a minute to
make sure that he or she has food, water, and shelter, and alert authorities if
you suspect abuse or neglect.
day, PETA's Community
Animal Project (CAP) staffers respond
to calls about animals who are malnourished, feral, sick, injured, trapped in
storm drains, stuck in trees, dying on the side of the road, or kept chained 24/7 365 days a
year. Mya and Becky are two
formerly chained dogs who were rescued, thanks to PETA.
had nothing more than a crumbling lean-to for shelter amid piles of trash. But after
a social worker saw her living in such deplorable conditions, she asked the owners to consider
parting with her. After they agreed, the
social worker immediately called PETA.
friends at the wonderful open-admission Virginia Beach SPCA (VBSPCA) shelter accepted beautiful Mya, and
she already has an application for adoption.
staffers spotted Becky while they were delivering straw bedding to chained dogs elsewhere. This beautiful
dog spent all day every day dragging a heavy logging chain around a ramshackle
CAP's repeated visits to the home to give Becky straw, toys, treats, and TLC,
her owners agreed to give her a shot at finding a home where she would be
allowed to live indoors with the rest of the family. Again, our good friends at
the VBSPCA stepped up, and now things are looking up for Becky.
open-admission shelters like the Virginia Beach SPCA. Workers at such
shelters never turn away
an animal in need because they know that animals are more than statistics.
Written by Alisa Mullins
It would break your heart to see the difference that a
simple doghouse can make in a dog's life. One recent beneficiary of PETA's doghouse delivery program
is Passion, who was spotted by a PETA fieldworker when our Community Animal
Project visited the trailer park in which she lives to help a neighbor
transport her dog to our no-cost to low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Our fieldworker found Passion—and
her pitiful excuse for a doghouse, a collection of metal and wood filled with
gaps that had done virtually nothing to keep her warm or dry this winter.
We replaced her decaying, makeshift lean-to with a sturdy,
weatherproof doghouse and filled it with straw (which doesn't freeze as towels
and blankets do when they get wet). Like all our outdoor clients, Passion also
received a lightweight, tangle-free tie-out to replace her heavy chain, a toy and a treat, clean water, and a few
minutes of affection, which means the world to a dog stuck outside alone 24
hours a day. Passion was so excited by her new house and all the attention she
was getting that her whole body wiggled with delight. It was as if she'd won
Countless neglected "backyard dogs" don't have so
much as a cardboard box to shelter them from the wind and rain. PETA
fieldworkers have found dogs shivering during lashing nor'easters with nothing
more to protect them from the elements than end tables, patio chairs,
overturned barrels, shells of air-conditioning units, and pieces of plywood
propped against fences. Some didn't even have those. During the winter, these
dogs run the risk of suffering from exposure or frostbite or becoming
dehydrated when water bowls freeze. During the summer, lack of access to water
or shade can be fatal when the temperatures soar.
Dogs are pack animals who crave the companionship of others.
There are few things worse for a dog than "solitary confinement" on a
chain or in a pen or kennel. That constant barking that drives the neighbors crazy?
It's a cry for help.
If you know someone with an "outdoor dog," offer
to play or go on walks with the pup. Take treats and toys, which mean so much
to a dog who would otherwise have nothing to do but watch the mud dry. Make
sure that the dog has adequate food, water, and shelter (required by law), and
report neglect to animal control. And use our resources to help get a chaining ban
passed in your community.
We can now add Suffolk, Virginia, to the growing list of
cities that recognize that dogs deserve better than life on a chain—something that
PETA has been advocating for a long time.
In January, when Suffolk Council Member Mike
Duman initially proposed a tethering ban, he met with resistance. But two short months
later, the council voted to ban chaining completely. How did this reversal
wrote to council members and got our friend the comedian Wanda Sykes, who is from Virginia,
to do the same. Daphna
Nachminovitch, our vice president of cruelty
investigations, raised awareness about the issue by writing a blog for a local
And we asked Alice Conner to share with the
council the story of her 2-year-old
cousin who was killed by dogs in Suffolk who
became aggressive after being chained for
Local PETA members and residents also
weighed in. And our message got through loud and clear.
Community Animal Project staff members receive more calls
about abused and neglected chained dogs in Suffolk than in any other area
surrounding the Sam Simon Center, our Virginia headquarters. As of September 1,
2013, Suffolk residents who do this to their dogs will face fines!
We thank Mike Duman, Alice Conner, Wanda
Sykes, and all the other compassionate people who helped make the Suffolk
tethering ban a reality. Now, with the help of Sykes and
actor Patton Oswalt,
we are working with Newport
News, one of the two remaining
cities in the region that still don't restrict or ban chaining, to improve
living conditions for its dog population.
If you would like to help get a chaining ban passed
in your hometown, we offer a wealth of resources.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Sykes—one of the funniest people on the planet, in my opinion—has taken on a very unfunny issue: dogs left chained up
outside. Like fellow Southeastern Virginia native and comedian Patton Oswalt, Wanda has sent letters on PETA's behalf to Newport News and Suffolk city officials, urging them to pass legislation against continuous tethering
similar to ordinances enacted in neighboring towns, including Hampton, Virginia Beach, Smithfield, Sykes'
hometown of Portsmouth, and PETA's hometown of Norfolk.
In her letters, Wanda explains that chained dogs—like the three pit bulls discovered
by PETA cruelty caseworkers in Newport News in December—are often denied adequate shelter and suffer from loneliness,
frustration, and neglect. One of those dogs had already died of starvation, and the two survivors were malnourished
and had no access to food or water (PETA has filed cruelty charges against the
As a mother, Wanda also expresses concern that chained dogs are
more likely to become aggressive than dogs who live indoors with their human
families, as evidenced by the tragic case of a toddler in Suffolk who was mauled to death by his family's chained dogs. Chaining also sends the
dangerous message to children that dogs are disposable objects to be tossed out in the backyard and forgotten when they become inconvenient.
If chaining is still permitted in your community, please
follow Wanda's example and encourage
your local officials to enact a tethering ban. You can also help by sponsoring a custom doghouse to be built and delivered to provide a dog with relief from extreme weather.
PETA first learned about Boomer when his owner was seeking a
new doghouse for the 4-year-old Rottweiler, who was left outside 24/7 in the
Pacific Northwest. A PETA cruelty caseworker urged her to allow Boomer to live indoors
or else give him up so that he could have a chance to be adopted by someone who
would. When she balked at doing either, the caseworker worked with a local
animal advocate to try to persuade her to act in Boomer's best interests.
Happily, Boomer's owner eventually opted to give him up so that
he wouldn't have to spend the whole winter shivering outside all alone. Now the
personable pup is in a foster home, and his foster mom is so smitten with him that
she says if she can't find the "perfect, perfect home" for him, she
will just keep him herself.
It's the best possible outcome for a dog or cat—a bright
future filled with care and affection instead of cold and loneliness.
Please help dogs like Boomer by working to pass anti-chaining legislation in your community, and if you know of any animals left outside all the time,
don't assume that the owners won't listen to you—speak up and try to make a
When a PETA staffer found this dog named President Obama two
years ago, he was stuck on a tangled lead in a trash-strewn yard without proper
food, water, shelter, or attention of any kind.
He was fed table scraps by his owner, who would not consider
allowing him indoors. Our staff member visited Obama frequently over the next two years, each time
offering to find him a new home but always getting turned down. So PETA did
what we could to keep the little guy healthy and comfortable, including
providing him with a new
doghouse and neutering him.
Recently, when a snowstorm was approaching, PETA's staffer
took Obama some straw for warmth and found him wet and shivering in the freezing-cold
backyard. But this time, the little tyke's owner finally agreed to let PETA
take him, which just goes to show why it's so important never to give up when a chained dog needs help.) Here is Obama in his wonderful new home with his adopted "sister":
As you can see, Obama has made himself right at home with his
new family—and, just like someone else we know, is taking full advantage of his
As harsh winter weather rages across the country, some of those facing the greatest risk are the dogs forced to live outdoors at the end of a chain, where they must endure some of the worst conditions that nature has to offer. Now, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt is stepping up to help them with a letter urging Newport News, Virginia, officials to follow the examples of dozens of other communities that have limited or banned the cruel and dangerous practice of chaining, thanks to a sustained campaign by PETA.
Patton is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia, which recently joined its neighboring communities of Smithfield, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and PETA's hometown of Norfolk in curtailing or outlawing tethering, leaving Newport News as one of the few holdouts in failing to protect "backyard dogs." And although he's revered as a comedian's comedian—watch his classic (but NSFW) takedown of the hideous KFC "sadness bowl" if you need proof—Patton knows that chaining is no laughing matter, explaining in his letter:
There is no worse punishment for a dog than a life sentence at the end of a chain. Forcing "man's best friend" to exist in the same barren patch 24/7 deprives these highly social pack animals of proper socialization and the opportunity to move around and explore. Often, they are deprived of necessities as basic as being able to reach food, water, or shelter—if they are even given any of those things. Every year, dogs injure or hang themselves on the chains that shackle them, while others grow aggressively protective of their tiny spaces. Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to attack than dogs who are not chained.
What You Can Do
Please join PETA and Patton Oswalt in taking action for chained dogs. Work to pass a tethering ban in your community—and if you ever see a cold, lonely animal left outside, please speak up!
The following was written by Kaitlynn Kelly, Media Coordinator.
I spend my days at PETA fielding calls from the media to answer questions about our news releases and explain our campaigns. I love my job, but I don't often get to see its impact on animals firsthand. So when the opportunity arose to deliver straw to cold "outdoor dogs," I jumped at the chance. I had no idea that I'd be coming home that day with my own Marley & Me story.
Our team discovered Marley because he was barking at a pit bull we were delivering straw to a couple of yards away. Marley and the pit bull could clearly see each other, and I thought how frustrating it must be for them to see each other, day in and day out, but not to be able to meet, sniff, or play.
As prisoner to a 10-foot-long chain 24/7, Marley's entire world consisted of a circle of mud at the far end of his owner's backyard. His doghouse was barren, his water bucket was so filthy that it was just another mud puddle, and his food bowl was at the farthest point that his chain would reach, presumably so that his owner could simply dump food into the bowl and walk away without having to touch him.
Marley was understandably guarded when I approached him, but when I held out the back of my hand, he licked it. Then, excited at the prospect of attention, he started to bounce up and down and run back and forth as much as his chain would allow. Marley's owner came out and grabbed the joyful dog by his head, loudly commanding, "Be still! Be still!" Marley, obviously uncomfortable, tried to move his face a little, and the old man smacked him on the head.
I wanted so badly to whisk him away from his abusive owner. But despite his seeming disdain for Marley, the man didn't want to surrender him. So we did what we could for the neglected dog: We covered his muddy patch of ground with straw, cleaned out the dirty water bucket, and gave him fresh food. We convinced the owner to let us replace Marley's chain with a lightweight tie-out. The tie-out added 5 feet to Marley's living space, and he immediately started exploring, feeling grass beneath his feet for what I am sure was the first time in months if not years. I offered Marley a bone, and he gratefully licked my hand before taking it.
My heart went out to every dog I met that day, but it's Marley I go to bed thinking about, and I am determined to help him. I might not be able to change the world, but I can change Marley's world, and that's just what I intend to do.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.