Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Comments on MacLeans article "When did Crating your dog become a crime"

MacLeans Magazine currently has a contentious article about current dog culture and takes on the subject of whether it's okay to crate your dog, and that maybe - chaining your dog isn't as abhorrent as we've been led to think it is.

To have an article like this in the year 2012 in a major Canadian magazine as far as I'm concerned is personally disgusting - and the author quotes advocates within the humane community in Nova Scotia who are trying to make a difference and obviously duped them and has misrepesented what they stand for. As I am typing this my face is uncontrollably forming a look of horror.

So on to my comments about the article - the article begins with the description of a guy in Shelburne Nova Scotia who's been complained about for the last year by "animal rights activists" to the SPCA - and finally the cruelty officer has come to look into things. He's found the 2 dogs are kept on chains about 15 feet long - they "big long run ropes that allow the dogs to move while preventing them from straying out to the raod" - "they run around and get plenty of exercise" says his owner.

The investigator decides that the dogs have shelter, they don't get tangled up and they have a nice house and concludes that because of this - "they are well fed and cared for".

I had a chained dog living next door to me for many years that lived like this. He was on a long line - but for some reason - he kept breaking that long line and would go on walk-abouts. It eventually killed him - because on one of his walk-abouts he got hit by a car. He didn't get killed by that collision - he still came home so that he could be chained up again - it took him a couple weeks to slowly die on the chain. After about a week he was paralyzed, and then he slowly died from there.

The thing about chaining dogs out - even if they're on fancy long lines - is that they are not supervised. A nice sharp tug - and they're off - that's why so many dogs that are found have collars and lines still attached to them.

So Robbie Fowler feeling convinced that he's a good dog owner to his 2 dogs Buddy and Magnum is a misnomer - at least he has 2 dogs so that they aren't completely isolated. Thank dog for that.

I take umbrage with a phrase that used in the article - still on the topic of chaining - the author says the following -

"These attitudes are fuelled by stories of cruelty passed around by activists in the province. Scott Saunders, who is lobbying to ban continuous dog chaining in Nova Scotia, tells of a guard dog at a Cape Breton construction site that was found dead in the snow at the end of its chain two years ago."

That was not a story - that was an actual thing that happened - that was an actual DOG WHO FROZE TO DEATH - alone in the woods on the end of chain.

That dog did not need to die - he was not a fictional "story of cruelty" - he was a living breathing animal who died because of an unspeakable act of cruelty.

In the next paragraph - the author uses the same language to talk about the amazing dog - the Mighty Quinn when he describes his journey as "a powerful story". Quinn's life is not a story - it is something that was actually done to him.

Inevitably - when the topic of chained dogs is talked about - the issue of sled dogs is brought up - and a sled dog breeder is interviewed for this article - and the lady does not disappoint. The author describes sled dogs as some of the only working dogs left in the world and he talks to Shannon DeBruin - a breeder and trainer outside of Edmonton who has a problem with the way that people are "Anthropormorphizing" their pets - "that animal rights activists are equating the way pets should be treated with the way they believe humans should be treated."

I didn't think that cliches still existed - but this lady sure sounds like one. She is surprised that people treat dogs like children - and I'm surprised that people like her don't realize that dogs deserve to be treated like the sentient beings they are.

I am sure I am not the only person on this continent who believes that dogs are not human - but they certainly do not want to be abandoned to a little patch of land where they have no control over what happens to them, who they come into contact with, whether they get wet or stay dry, whether they are bored or whether they are entertained, whether they are around the things they love or whether they take a nap.

I don't call my dogs my children, I am not their mother - I am their owner - they are my property. And that's how I want it, because that's how I can best protect them.

And it's through legislation that we can protect our animals.

To think that banning the continuous chaining of animals means you can't crate your dogs inside your home, or tie your dog out so he can have a pee in the morning in your unfenced dog is just a lame, lame excuse enabling people to abuse their dogs.

I am not a person who agrees with crating your dogs for 10 hours at a time - I personally wouldn't want to sit in a box that I couldn't only stand up turn around in and lay back down for 10 hours a day - but when you're house training your dog, keeping your dog in a room that's carpet free while you're at work is a good idea for everyone. I have 2 crates in my living room with the doors taken off so that if someone feels like going in and taking a nape - they can, and they get used regularly by everyone - so the dogs do like going in them. Crates are NOT a bad thing.

I even wrote an article a few years ago when I was still involved with Dogs Deserve Better on how to crate train a formerly chained dog - so I am definitely not against crates for house training.

But the continuous chaining of dogs is something that to me is a black and white thing - it is a philosophy who`s time has come.

A lot of people say they do it because they do it for security - what are you protecting in your back yard? If you're using the dog protection - he will protect your house much better if he's inside - then he can protect the things that are actually valuable.

If he's outside because you couldn't house train him or he was too jumpy - let him go - or find a trainer to get some help - it's that easy.

Back in 2004 I wrote a letter to an MLA in the government of New Brunswick when they were considering whether to enact bsl - and I wrote about my dog Daisy who was a formerly chained dog - and they were considering keeping restricted breeds of dogs chained continuously as part of their new law - so I wrote to them about that aspect of their proposed law.

In the last part of the letter I said - "The culture change of chaining dogs has to start somewhere - maybe it can start with you."

I think that is very appropriate for today in Nova Scotia - and maybe also could have been suggested to the author of the MacLeans article - he certainly did not seem interested in writing anything positive about chained dogs. I don't even think he was a particularly good writer. But I'm not so good a judge of that, which I'm sure it's easy to see.


  1. I AGREE! Especially aggravated with the nonsense of 'guarding' the house from outside. After our 4 year crash course in dog behaviour, I tell EVERYONE that if you are looking to have your dog for security, THE DOG NEEDS TO LIVE WITH YOU. So, when someone is coming into your home or even your personal space, your dog will immediately pick up on the scent of pure fear that will explode off you! That, along with your subtle body signal changes and you have a great ally in your dog should the situation arise.

    And seriously, it's INSANE to think its safe physically or mentally to have a dog chained.


    My bet, Joan: the writer probably doesn't have any personal experience with dogs and wasn't interested in writing an objective, accurate piece.

  2. It is just so sad that common sense cannot prevail here. Crates and tie outs are great when used with compassion and a little intelligence. If I thought owning a dog meant I had to crate my dog all day or have them tied out all day, then I would just NOT own a dog, simple as that. Because there is something deep inside me that says to do that to any living creature is very wrong. This is why I find it really difficult to understand how people can. Where is that "thing" inside them? Does it exist? Also, where is the common sense that is able to put things in their proper context and not judge everything as black and white. I have a fenced backyard, but that's not where my dogs prefer to spend their time, especially on their own. They love to sit out on the front step so they can watch everything an everyone that goes buy. I would never just leave them out there, I ususally sit with and we are only out for about an hour or so. I too have a crate with the door off that mine like to go in as they please and it is a safe place to be if I'm having a repair person in the house, but they are never confined for any lenght of time. I also don't really believe in using dogs as security. If you need security get an alarm system. I don't think that is a fair job for a dog.

  3. Thoughtful post Joan.

  4. Anonymous8:29 AM

    Thank you Joan. We were so disappointed with the article. It actually seemed like it did more harm than good. What a shame...Maybe we need to write the editor of the Magazine voice this. Shelly Hipson www.petprojects.ca Shelburne County

  5. I was also very disappointed considering the amount of time and effort we put into providing very accurate and non biased information to the reporter. I was interviewed for approx 1.5hrs, quoting statistics, providing factual information backed by reliable sources etc ... It's situations like these that will only drive me even more to get the truth out there, and the wheels of change in motion. I should have known we were dealing with a twit reporter after discovering some pretty "odd" photos on his facebook account.

    Scott, People For Dogs

  6. I do use a tie out,I use a chain because I found a quality one is unlikely to break. I tried crating but he hates it,he stands up the whole time,wouldn't drink or eat in it,would soil in it and is utterly petrified of it.
    I find a tie out for a hour to five a day is the better option for him. A male dog is not a female pregnant wolf.
    I hope people do not think he is abused because I keep him lean(but still of good weight). Believe it or not his temperament has actually improved sense on a tie out as well. He used to be stuck in a kennel 24-7 before I got him,and had aggression issues.

  7. You are not the enemy, Demiandogs - I am personally not against putting your dogs out for an hour or two, or four or five - those are not the people we are targetting - those dogs are not being abused - it's the ones who are out for 24 hours a day 365 days a day - those are the ones who are being abused and who need to be focused on.

    We will never stop people from tying their dogs out for short periods and nor should we - and personally - I don't crate my own dogs either - even though I said something different above - but it's the dogs abandoned to the backyards - who are fed infrequently and get no attention whatsoever and everyone agrees that need attention that we need to focus on.

    People like you are not the problem, Demiandogs - you should be fighting with us because you are a dog lover like us.