By now, we all understand the dangers of keeping a dog in a locked car during the summer months. But keeping them chained up outdoors can also pose a host of health risks and dangers, and the SPCA is asking the Quebec government to make it illegal for someone to keep a dog tethered around the clock.
The proposed ban is not focused on people who walk their dogs on leashes or tie them up for a short time, but on dogs who spend every day on a chain.
And it’s not as uncommon as you’d think: “Approximately one-third of the complaints received by the Montreal SPCA’s cruelty investigation unit concerns chained dogs”, said Sophie Gaillard, the SPCA’s lawyer and animal advocacy campaigns manager.
The SPCA has launched a website, CutTheChain.ca, to raise awareness about the campaign. The site invites citizens to sign a letter addressed to Minister Pierre Paradis. In it, it cautions that dogs left outside around the clock, “… are exposed to extreme cold in the winter, and suffocating heat in the summer. Isolated, unable to socialize, play, exercise, or express natural behaviour, chained dogs develop severe boredom and frustration, eventually leading to psychological distress.” That means aside from affecting their own health, dogs left chained up like this can end up displaying aggressive behaviour when faced with a perceived threat.
Currently in Quebec it is still perfectly legal to keep dogs continually tied up, even though the practice is both inhumane and unsafe. Earlier this year, Quebec introduced a bill that, if passed, would see the status of animals upgraded from “movable property” to “sentient beings.”
However, the SPCA’s proposal may face opposition from members of the province’s sled-dog community, who commonly keep dogs outside on tethers.
Bernard Saucier, president of Quebec’s Sled Dog Club, says anti-tethering campaigns are based on a lack of understanding, and maintains that his dogs are happier and healthier tied outside near their friends than stuck in a house all day, says a Canadian Press release.
“My dogs are in a park. They each have their territory. They socialize with their friends, run around their houses, go take a nap. They can urinate when they need,” he continues. “They get more exercise outside than lying around a house all day.”
But without playing with each other or given the opportunity to run, tethered dogs are still deprived of the social interactions, Gaillard maintains.
Saucier said his dogs cannot touch, but are let off their tethers to play in small groups at times. He said anti-tethering campaigns are the result of well-meaning people who want to ascribe human characteristics to their pets.