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Tethering Dogs in Public: How to Reduce Bite Risk and Injury

Icon_missing_thumb By Jenniffer Pickard | June 28, 2016 | Comments (0)

There is nothing objectionable about taking your dog(s) for a walk to your local park, along the sidewalk, or to and from an activity that you can both enjoy outdoors. But, increasingly in both cities and small towns, dogs are being tethered to allow their owners to shop, dine, or "quickly run in to get something" from a convenience store. It seems like a harmless habit, but in reality, tethering your dog can result in both an emotional and physical injury for your pet, and for others.

created on: 2016-06-28

Long-Term Tethering at Home

We understand that dogs are pack animals, and that they need both shelter and necessities, as well as human connection to be healthy and happy. However, for some people, dogs are ‘outside' animals, and many farms or types of working dogs excel when properly taken care of, provided with shelter, fresh water, food, and let off their "chain" or "rope" daily for exercise. That is the best possible scenario for a loved pet that lives predominantly outdoors – but, it is not the norm.

In addition to being cruel (several states in the U.S. are banning dog tethering to address the problem), dogs that are not socialized also present a significant dog bite injury danger to strangers, and even family members or visitors to the property. Chicago personal injury lawyers see numerous cases where a dog that was thought to be friendly became de-socialized as a result of being tied-up permanently outside. A domesticated dog that is denied domestic lifestyle training and reinforcement on a daily basis can quickly become dangerous, and the risks escalate the longer the dog goes without compassionate attention and human leadership.

City Dogs and Sidewalk Tethering

The average city dog has it pretty good. From air conditioned subway rides and taxi cabs (many of which permit one pet), to designated dog parks and even dog beaches. Given that many pet owners may not have their own backyard (or a large one) in a city, it's not uncommon to see dogs walking on the sidewalk every day. And it is usually the sign of a great relationship between the dog and its owner.

Have you ever cruised around a downtown city on a Saturday or Sunday? One thing you may quickly notice is a few shops that provide a large bowl of water; businesses have compassion and understanding for what it's like to be a city dog on a hot day. But the other thing that you will see is the necessity for the water bowl; you'll see many dogs tethered outside of businesses, waiting for their owners to come out.

Where most pet (and business) owners have a problem are the situations where a dog owner uses poor judgement, and keeps his or her dog tied up outside when it is dangerous for the dog, or for other people. Each situation varies depending on the circumstance.

Lengthy tethering is irresponsible and negligent of pet owners in general, whether it is a hot day, a cold winter day, or pleasant outside. First is the expectation that everyone will simply "leave your dog alone," which is unrealistic. Whether someone loves dogs (and wants to touch or talk to your dog) or whether someone dislikes dogs, and decides to yell, threaten, or strike the dog, you as the pet owner cannot guarantee the behavior of other random strangers as they encounter your dog unsupervised. The first threat is from other people, and it can result in injury, provocation, and even theft of your pet.

The second consideration with unsupervised, long-term tethering outside your store or favorite restaurant is that you cannot predict the behavior of your pet. Even the most well-trained, leash-obedient dog can act differently when under duress; the stress that started the minute you moved out of their eyesight and left them in a strange place, surrounded by people your dog does not know.

How do you feel about a pet owner that tethers their dog on a bicycle rack, street light, or tree outside of a restaurant or retail store? The circumstances vary depending on where the dog is tethered, definitely. Would you leave your dog tied up outside if you are going to be five minutes to drop off a prescription to your pharmacist? Would it be okay if it was a shorter duration, even if your pet or the public were at risk?

An App for That? Rental Crates for New York Pets

One solution that is being explored in New York City combines the needs of people who have to "stop in" while walking their dog, while improving public and pet safety. Coin operated crates started to be tested, where owners can reserve an air conditioned sidewalk crate (it's more like a small hotel room with a window) for $0.20 cents per minute, and a $25 annual membership fee. Dogs cannot be accessed by strangers or harmed, and the enclosed crate offers safety, and a moderated comfortable temperature.

When you consider the legal liability, cost, and impact of a dog bite claim, the risk does not seem worth it. Certain breeds are also frequently targeted by dog fighting rings as breeding or fighting dogs, or as bait and training dogs. The multi-million-dollar illegal industry is estimated to be responsible for a 31 percent increase in dog theft since 2013, according to the American Kennel Club. Family pets are also targeted by resourcing companies who supply complacent animals to research laboratories.

Consider these alternatives instead:

  • Hire a pet-sitter or dog walker.
  • Reserve time at a "pet daycare" if you have errands or places to be, and cannot leave your pet unattended at home.
  • Consider the breed of dog that will best suit your lifestyle needs, care, and exercise obligations.

If you love your dog, and want to remain a responsible pet guardian, re-think tethering your pet to your vehicle, outside a store, or in your backyard. Dogs are pack animals that require daily leadership and reinforcement to maintain the behavior that we expect of them, and placing them in high-risk situations (like tying them up in public) is gambling with public safety, and the safety of your own pet. If you love your dog, leave it at home, or travel with a friend or family member who can supervise your dog if you need to shop or dine.

(Image source)

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