“No Animal Should Live Life on a Chain”

“No Animal Should Live Life On A Chain”

Laura Henderson, Executive Director
9/22/15


dog calf on chain
Yesterday the City Council of Arlington, Washington voted to strengthen their animal cruelty laws by approving a new ordinance that would limit the amount of time an animal can be chained or tethered.  This would be the first law of its kind in Washington State (and only the 2nd tethering law in Washington overall). 

In addition to preventing animals from being tethered between the hours of 11pm and 5am, it also has a range of health and safety protections built in for the animals, including limits on the size of the chain and inclement weather provisions, among others.  The first offense would be a civil infraction with a $250 fine and the second offense is a misdemeanor crime.

While we would rather not see any animals kept on a tether as a regular part of their lives, the City of Arlington deserves great credit for taking this huge step forward.  Arlington now joins a growing number of municipalities and jurisdictions across the country that are seeking to provide relief and protection for animals who currently are living their lives on chains.

Public outrage on this issue is certainly helping fuel this progress. We continually get comments on our social media pages from people who are heartbroken and frustrated at the idea of an animal living his/her entire life confined by a chain.  “No animal should have to live life on a chain”, is a common theme that we read. And we couldn’t agree more.

While there is clearly forward momentum on this issue, it is important to acknowledge that the species that will mostly benefit from our new awareness and convictions about chaining/tethering is dogs.   But what about the other species living their lives confined to a chain?  Are we as a society ok with keeping them confined to a chain?

Many people are shocked to learn that every year in the United States, millions of male baby calves are chained inside two-foot wide crates or hutches until they are sent to slaughter at 16-20 weeks old so their flesh can be sold as “veal”.  They are so confined that they are unable to turn around or lie down. Most of them never see the sun or experience fresh air. Because of muscle atrophy, many are unable to even walk to their deaths.

Most people don’t realize this dark reality of dairy.  But the sad fact is that just like humans, mother cows must give birth in order to produce milk.  These mothers’ milk is intended for their babies. But the industry instead sells their milk to humans for a profit.  So the babies are forcibly removed from their mothers (a separation that is as traumatic as it would be for a human) as living “by-products” of milk production and sale.  The veal industry literally exists because of the dairy industry.

Imagine if you drove by and saw a neighbor keeping an animal (dog or calf or…) confined by a short chain inside a 2X6 foot box. Most people would be horrified and call the authorities. The industry knows this, so they keep the calves hidden from view behind locked gates.  And their practices are protected by a different set of laws. The way veal calves are treated would be considered animal cruelty if done to a dog or a cat.

The good news is that you can start helping these babies today by simply reducing or eliminating dairy from your diet.  And because millions of other people are already making this choice, there are more and more delicious non-dairy milks, yoghurts, creamers and cheeses on the market every day. 

“No animal should have to live life on a chain” is a noble and powerful sentiment that most people agree with wholeheartedly.  While we continue to fight to make this a reality for dogs, we can immediately help the calves on chains with the choices we make as consumers every day.

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