The constant (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year) tethering of dogs presents many problems that can be medical and psychological in nature. Dogs can be left outside in any and all weather conditions, a wide range of temperatures and are exposed to the elements - all of which can be detrimental to the health and quality of life of the dog. Dogs that are tethered in this manner can easily suffer from hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration, parasitic infestations, and attack by wild animals, among many other things. Many dogs in this situation suffer from neglect and do not meet their daily requirements for exercise or social interaction; as a result some of these dogs can become restless, anxious, easily excitable, and in some cases fearful and aggressive. Current law states that if a dog has access to food, water and a shelter (defined as a structure with three walls and a roof with no required insulation/bedding) that it cannot be seized - in other words, in the eyes of the law these three basic things are all the dog needs. There are no requirements for socialization, veterinary care or enrichment. In today's society, knowing everything we know about canine health and behavior, as well as animal welfare, this is unacceptable. Laws need to be changed such that dogs cannot be tethered 24-7, subject to neglect and a poor quality of life. Dogs don't have a voice - we need to speak for them!
If this does not make you want to change the current laws, let me share with you the story of my dog Quinn, who was rescued from the end of a rope 17 months ago. I adopted Quinn last year from the Atlantic Small Dog Rescue, who had been tied outside by a nylon rope, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 8 years. And the worst part: he was only seized because his owner passed away. Had his owner not died, Quinn may still be tied outside to that nylon rope. When he was rescued he weighed about 30lbs, and at his healthy current weight he is 55lbs - he weighed almost half of what his healthy body weight should have been. Quinn was not neutered until he was rescued, and had a large tumor on one of his testicles that may have killed him had it not been removed. He had been infested with fleas for so long that he developed a flea hypersensitivity, resulting in intense itching, inflammation and hair loss. His skin was raw from the hypersensitivity and from him chewing/scratching at his skin, and to this day (more than 2 years after his being rescued) he is still bald and scarred on the hind end of his body, including his sides/back/legs/tail. His constant chewing as a result of the hypersensitivity also caused large quantities of hair to become embedded in his gums, causing severe gingivitis and tooth damage such that most of his front teeth had to be removed. In total since his rescue he has had 12 teeth removed due to this and previously poor dental care. The hypersensitivity and persistent inflammation of his skin required Quinn to be on prednisolone, a corticosteroid, for nearly 2 years after his rescue, which resulted in the development of steroid-induced hyperadrenocorticism. And that is not the worst of it - Quinn had been tied out on the same nylon rope for so long that it had become imbedded in his neck, and he still has a perfect one-two inch wide ring around his entire neck in which fur does not grow, and probably never will. Aside from the physical abuse and trauma that he suffered as a result of his constant tethering, Quinn was extremely wary of strangers, he was highly anxious, and would not allow people to touch him in most places. Because he had been starved he had developed food aggression. He was fostered for 9 months by the Atlantic Small Dog Rescue, and over that period of time he came to trust a few special people to touch him (although still not in most places) learned to walk on leash, was house trained and was socialized with other dogs (although he still didn't fully understand normal dog behavior, leading us to believe he had been isolated from other dogs from a young age.) In the past 17 months Quinn has become a new dog. With one-on-one attention he came to trust me enough that I can touch him anywhere on his body, including in his mouth and ears. He has gotten over his food aggression and if he has something he is not allowed I can remove it from his mouth without him biting me. He now knows basic obedience, goes off leash at the park, and helps my new puppy who is 100% blind get around. He even loves people. My point: this is an amazing dog, who almost didn't get a chance to be the amazing dog he was meant to be because there are no laws protecting dogs in this unfortunate and unfair circumstance. We need to strengthen our laws so that dogs should never have to suffer in this way. Had it not been for the death of his owner, Quinn may have died on the end of that rope, and that is not something that I will stand for. I urge you to help make the changes required to protect dogs throughout Nova Scotia from what Quinn and so many other dogs have had to endure.
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