As winter becomes spring and spring becomes summer, there is an increase in attacks on children by chained dogs, according to Mothers Against Dog Chaining, an initiative of the nonprofit group Dogs Deserve Better. The groups are dedicated to ending the suffering endured by chained dogs and to educating the public about the dangers chained dogs pose to people.
Dogs who spend their lives on chains often become neurotic, aggressive and pathologically protective of the patch of dirt where they spend their lives. Frustrated and unsocialized, chained dogs pose a danger to unsuspecting children who approach these dogs.
Since 2003, when the MADC began monitoring attacks nationwide that result in serious injury or death, it has traditionally seen an increase every spring when the warmer weather beckons more children outside and chained dogs can be especially frustrated after another lonely, agonizing winter.
In 2007 MADC logged 81 serious attacks on children by chained dogs. Thirty of these attacks — more than one-third of the entire year’s attacks — occurred in April and May alone.
Of those attacks, eight resulted in the death of a child. “Our records include only those attacks serious enough to make the newspapers, and include only those we are able to locate,” explains Tammy Grimes, founder of MADC and Dogs Deserve Better. “There are many more attacks that go unmentioned and unreported. And of course numerous adults also are seriously injured and killed every year by chained dogs.”
The fact pattern leading up to the death in July 2007 of Tiffany Pauley, a 5-year-old Atlanta girl with Down Syndrome, is typical of many of these attacks: A child wanders into a neighbor’s yard and wants to pet the chained dog, but the angry, perpetually chained animal attacks when he feels his space is threatened. The dog’s caretakers then claim that there was nothing they could have done, unaware that the very method of confinement to which they subjected their dog led directly to the animal’s aggression.
“My son did nothing but run past a dog that spent its life on a short chain,” says Miranda Riane, the mother of an 8-year-old boy who was seriously mauled by a chained dog in November 2007. “He paid the price for the owner having taken the negligent and ‘easy way out’ with regard to caring for her dog.”
In part because of the public safety issues posed by perpetually chained dogs, a number of states, cities and counties have started passing laws addressing how long people can chain their dogs. California and Texas recently passed statewide laws that put specific time limits on chaining and a number of other states, including Pennsylvania and South Carolina, are currently considering similar legislation.
For more information and the latest updates on attacks, visit www.mothersagainstdogchaining.org.