Don’t let the dogs bite


By Trisha Gurley

With warmer weather approaching, hopefully ushering out winter, your dog is probably raring to go. Just like people, dogs love to play in the sunshine and fresh air. The ideal is to have a spacious yard for a dog to play in or to take the dog to a park or other safe, designated area.
Unfortunately, some dog owners think leaving a dog outside is play enough, and they believe they’re being responsible by chaining or tethering their dog in their yard. After all, their dog isn’t running loose in the neighborhood, and they’re providing food, water, and maybe shelter, right? Isn’t this better than letting a dog run wild?
Quite frankly, no, it is not better.
Like people, dogs are social creatures that need interaction with others. Keeping a dog chained for long periods of time or repetitively can turn a docile, sweet dog into an angry, agitated dog. Simply put, a chained dog can basically go insane from lack of love, lack of attention, and lack of variety – and if the chain doesn’t snap, their mind will. This is not only inhumane for a dog, it is setting a scene of danger for people and other animals that cross its limited path.
You may not think that a tethered dog will bite, but a tethered dog is more prone to do just that. Every living being has the ‘fight or flight’ instinct when presented with a threat. A chained dog knows he cannot flee when he perceives a threat. And what humans perceive as a welcome visit – a child, a neighbor, a volunteer, a friend – is much different in a dog’s eyes. Chained dogs can become especially protective of their space, as it is all they have, and they cannot escape it. They have no option but to attack or fight a foreign visitor. More often than not, this results in people receiving a dog bite.
What do you do if bitten by a dog, chained or no? The first thing to do is get medical attention from a doctor. This is vital! All animal bites in Shelby County are required to be reported to the Health Department. The fear of contracting rabies is a real one, but the likelihood of this is quite miniscule, especially from domestic animals. Don’t let the fear of rabies treatment keep you from seeking medical attention! You must especially seek medical help immediately if you are diabetic, are HIV+, are undergoing chemotherapy, or have had an organ transplant.
If you can, get the dog owner’s name, address, and contact info, and take a photo of the bite area. An animal that has bitten you is required to be quarantined for 10 days, and it is the owner’s responsibility to do so. Failure to do this can result in fines or legal action. Bear in mind, this is just to make sure the dog is not a medical risk to you or others. It does not mean that the dog will be euthanized or punished.
Tennessee law demands dog owners to obtain a rabies vaccine for their dog and have proof for dog licensing. If you are bitten, you have a legal right to ask for proof of the dog’s shots, and as an owner, you are required to give it. Do not just take an owner’s word that the dog is up to date on vaccinations. If the dog owner is uncooperative about providing shot records, then it’s time to enlist the aid of either law enforcement or an attorney.
For more information on dog chaining/tethering, check out dogsdeservebetter.com.

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