How to Help Chained Dogs in Your Community

The sight is heartbreaking: a sad animal, exposed to the heat or the cold, often without shelter, chained in a backyard. Sometimes all it takes to secure them is a thin rope tied around their collar on one end and a dog house on the other, in others it’s a thick metal chain that keeps the dog from moving away from a tree. Whatever the case, it’s enough to inspire any animal lover to change that dog’s life, but how? The answer is simpler than one would imagine: build a fence.

“Building a fence really changes the relationship between dogs and owners,” explains Michele Coppola, President of Fences for Fido, a nonprofit organization that builds fences in houses that have chained dogs so the dogs can run freely in the backyard. “Many times dogs who were outside 24/7 go on to become a family member, spending time in the house and outside because they’re no longer a location.”

Since 2009, Fences for Fido has been helping dogs in the Southwest Oregon and Washington state areas. People can anonymously nominate a house with a chained dog on their website or people can nominate themselves if they don’t have the means to build their own fence. According to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, who helped Fences for Fido get started and has been building fences since 2006 in North Carolina, that lack of resources is the most common reason why people keep dogs chained.

“When we first started we thought we would we would build this fence and solve a problem but we quickly saw the problem is not chained dogs, it’s poverty,” explains Lori Hensley, Director of Operations at Coalition to Unchain Dogs. “No one wants to chain a dog. They just don’t have the means to build a fence.”

Other common reasons are not understanding that dogs are social animals that need to run around, an owner not knowing how to address behavioral problems and trying to keep the dog from running away, says the Humane Society of the United States.

“People chain their dogs for a variety of reasons so we always approach them without judgement because most times we’re not seeing the whole story,” says Coppola adding that those issues are addressed when building a fence for someone to make sure they’re educated on why chaining their dogs shouldn’t be a solution. “Maybe they didn’t have a fence to start with and someone, maybe a family member, dumped a dog with them and they’re keeping it out of the goodness of their hearts but they don’t have a fence. You don’t know.”

Between the two organizations, over 3,400 dogs have been freed from chains but since they only operate locally, they have created resources for people in other parts of the country who want to help. Unchained Planet, a Facebook group of volunteer fence builders, offers advice and tips to anyone looking to start their own fence building organization and a DIY tutorial is also available for free download.

From materials needed to step by step instructions, anyone can start building a fence to help chained dogs in their communities, though to complete novices, the guidance of a seasoned builder or a professional is encouraged.

“If you’re starting out for the very first time, it might be a good idea to pair up with a fence company who may be willing to help and even donate the materials,” suggests Coppola. “Or you want to find somebody who’s done a fence before and can kind of show you how to go about it.”

Photo Credit: ThinkStock


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

As I always say; not everyone should be allowed to have pets/kids.....

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Is ignorance a good excuse?

ANA MARIJA R2 years ago

“People chain their dogs for a variety of reasons so we always approach them without judgement because most times we’re not seeing the whole story,”... sad but true :( Gladly shared. Thank you.

Joanna M.
Joanna M2 years ago

Tell U.S. lawmakers it's time to create a national animal abuse registry!

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y2 years ago

Thanks, good to know.

Sometimes one sees dogs tied up inside fenced areas. Owners are often uneducated and don't know how to deal with behaviors (chewing, chasing). This is a 'training the owners' issue and it can be difficult.

Deborah Fobes
Deborah F2 years ago

Chaining dogs is passive abuse. Often these dogs end up neglected, unsocialized, lonely, frustrated and dangerous. They need to be liberated and rescued. If the law won't help, sometimes one has to answer to a higher authority and do the right thing.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B2 years ago

I see the odd one tied up outside the Co-op briefly while the owner is shopping.
Patricia, beaucoup des gens vous ne comprenderont.

Patricia Guilhem
Patricia Guilhem2 years ago

Les chaînes ne sont pas bien mais laisser un chien dehors toute la journée et même la nuit n' est pas bien non plus. Un chien doit vivre dans la maison avec des personnes. Il doit être promené régulièrement. La clôture, c' est juste bien, pour prendre l' air 5 minutes. Ceux qui prenne un chien doivent prendre leurs responsabilités et doivent le rendre heureux.

Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Be nice to our angels