REDMOND, Wash. – Seven dog lovers sat chained to dog houses and poles as canines frolicked in the sun in the off-leash area at Marymoor Park this weekend.
"We do it for the animals because they can't speak for themselves and we want people to know that it is actually a form of cruelty," said Susan Hartland, who, despite being tied by a rope to a nearby lawn stake, handed out informational flyers to passing dog owners on Saturday.
Hartland was in Marymoor Park as a Washington representative for Dogs Deserve Better, the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that organizes a national, annual event called "Unchain the 50." It was the fifth year for the protest, meant to raise awareness of what the group believes are the detrimental effects of chaining dogs.
The group aims to have at least one person in each state live chained to a doghouse for eight to 24 hours as a way of informing people of the damage animal tethering can cause a dog. They hope to prompt laws limiting dog tethering. In Washington, the group had seven volunteers this weekend.
Tammy Grimes, founder of Dogs Deserve Better, planned to live chained in Atlanta for 29 hours this weekend. More than 100 people are participating in 36 different states.
"It really is an educational event and we did it here so people who already love dogs will be appalled at the issue and we can tell them what they can do about it," said Seattle resident Sandy Clinton, another Dogs Deserve Better representative, who attended without a dog collar or chain.
Dogs Deserve Better has teamed up with Pasado's Safe Haven of Monroe, Wash., which services abandoned, abused and neglected animals, to introduce a bill in the next legislative session that would place similar restrictions on tethering dogs.
Citing statistics from Centers for Disease Control, the group contends a chained dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than an unchained dog. Also, they say, chained dogs typically lack adequate veterinary care, food, water or shelter, and can develop infections and severe wounds when their collars become embedded in their necks from constantly being tethered.
Wearing her dog's old collar, Leslie Kenter chained herself to the plastic igloo type doghouse that belonged to her previous dog, Gus. Kenter believes a state limit on tethering would have saved Gus, a German shepherd mix she rescued but later had to euthanize because of his untreatable aggressive behavior.
"I understood that he was unadoptable and decided to keep him," Kenter said in a flyer about her dog. "He longed for love and companionship and he received neither. As hard as he tried, Gus could not let go of being protective -- this is what he had learned during the years he was chained."