Unleash animals in Ashland

What would you do if you saw someone tied permanently to a six-foot chain? If you called the authorities, they'd rush over to free the victim and prosecute his abusers, right?

Not if that someone is an animal. Ashland, like most cities, allows animal family members to live on chains. This type of animal abuse is more common than people think. In the 14 years I've lived in Ashland, I've seen neighbor after neighbor tie their animal much or all the time.

Animals can wind up in deep trouble when tied unattended for long periods of time. Some animals get wrapped in chains and get dehydrated or die of heatstroke because they can't reach shade or water. Some break limbs or strangle. Some young animals grow until their collars embed in their flesh.

Some animals jump fences or walk off porches and accidentally hang themselves. "It's common for kids to abuse chained dogs by hosing them down, or throwing things like rocks, sticks or baseballs at them," says John Mays, executive director of the National Animal Control Association.

"For dogs, prolonged chaining is emotional abuse," says psychologist Randall Lockwood of the ASPCA. Social animals like dogs, goats and horses often feel insecure, lonely, frustrated and bored. They're also more likely to be attacked by other animals.

Unfortunately, if you've ever complained to the shelter about excessive chaining, you know how hopeless it is. I know a local resident who called about a permanently chained dog on East Main. "The shelter said they couldn't do a thing about it," she said.

About 80 U.S. communities limit tethering of dogs or other animals at home. It's time that Ashland &

one of America's most progressive cities &

joined this nationwide trend. 5,534 people have signed a petition asking Ashland to heavily restrict the tethering of animals at their homes.

Councilors Hartzell, Hardesty and Navickas want a significant time limit for any home tethering. Mayor Morrison and Councilors Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman oppose this.

The ordinance would be enforced on a complaint basis.

If someone is tying a child all day, you can report that anonymously. Like that, you'll be able to report excessive tethering of animals.

Fences can be built cheaply or free. One SOU student fenced her dog in for $35. Most landlords allow tenants to build fences. Want to help get this passed? Sign the petition.

Ambuja Rosen

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