January Is ‘Unchain a Dog’ Month—Here’s How to Help Dogs in Your Community


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January is “Unchain a Dog” Month, and this year PETA is encouraging everyone to bring dogs inside, where they’re safest and happiest. Whether you start a conversation with a neighbor or a local legislator, here’s how you can make this month count for dogs who are left to suffer in the cold.

Help Unchain a Dog This Winter

“Backyard dogs” suffer immensely all year, but cold weather brings extra hardships: frostbite, exposure to harsh wind, and severe dehydration due to frozen—or lack of—water sources. Humans who chain or pen dogs leave them without basic shelter, such as a doghouse, to help protect them from the cold and the snow.

Dogs kept outside may yelp, wail, or bark to get humans’ attention, but it does them no good if no one listens. In many cases, you can help a dog simply by noticing their suffering and starting a conversation. If you know someone who keeps a dog outside, ask them why and find out how you can help.

If it’s safe, offer to play with the dog and take them for walks. Bring them treats and toys, which mean a lot to dogs who have little to do. Ensure that they have adequate food, water, and shelter—all required by law—and report abuse or neglect to authorities. Your call could mean the difference between life and death for an animal left outside.

Remember: You should obey posted signage and never go onto someone’s property or interact with a dog without the owner’s permission. If you haven’t talked to the property owner, the best thing to do is knock on their door when they’re home and start the conversation.

How PETA Brings Relief to Suffering Dogs

PETA staffers do everything we can to improve dogs’ lives, including delivering free, sturdy, custom-built doghouses and straw bedding to those who would otherwise have no protection from the weather. We also replace heavy chains with lightweight tie-outs and work with client families one on one to help them understand basic animal care and improve their dogs’ quality of life.

In addition, we work at the community level with straw giveaway events, humane education, and other outreach activities such as billboard campaigns.

Tethering Bans Work—Bring One to Your Community!

Although aid and relief are essential for dogs currently suffering outside, the best way to prevent dogs from dying on chains is to get a local tethering ban passed. PETA successfully lobbied for stronger legal protections for dogs in Virginia, and we continue to work toward meaningful legislation in our service areas and at the state level in North Carolina, where most of our fieldwork cases are.

Your local leaders need you to tell them this issue needs their attention: If chaining is still legal in your area, please get in touch with your local and state representatives and encourage them to ban this cruel practice, as so many other jurisdictions have.

Check PETA’s Chaining Law Tracker

If you need guidance or advice as you work on getting legislation passed, please e-mail Rachel Bellis, our associate director of local affairs.

Help us end cruel dog chaining: Sign the pledge and commit to pushing for change in your community.



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