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Would You Tether Your Dog in Front of a Store Unsupervised?

I would never. Would you tie your dog to a post, tree, or bench and go about your business?

 |  Apr 4th 2013  |   331 Contributions


I recently visited my local Target store and saw that someone had tethered an Australian Shepherd to a bench out front. I was shocked to see the dog there unattended and assumed his human companion was inside shopping. However, in today’s world, he could have just as easily been left there for someone else to find and, hopefully, take care of. Shortly thereafter, I noticed two people walk out of the store, collect the dog and begin walking home. I guessed they lived nearby, decided to take their dog for a walk, and then decided to go shopping.

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Photo by oatsy40

At the time, I was puzzled as to why both people had to go inside. It was a beautiful spring day, and one of them could have sat on the bench and kept their furry companion company. Apparently, they didn’t realize that their dog could have been distracted by any number of things and broken free from his tether to run into the parking lot or adjacent street. Apparently, it also didn’t occur to them that someone could have simply untied the leash and stolen their dog. It made me think, who would do such a thing?

Some of you may support me on my thoughts and comments, while others may feel I am being too dramatic. However, in working with thousands of lost and stolen animal cases over the years, I’ve seen too many occasions where the above occurred.

There have been numerous times where I have been contacted regarding a dog stolen while tethered in front of a store. On one occasion, someone left their Yorkie tied to a newspaper stand in front of a store while they went in to pick up a few items. Swearing that they only left the dog for a few minutes, the video recording from the store showed it was actually 37 minutes.

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Dog chained to gate by Shutterstock.

On another occasion, someone tethered their dog to a chair in front of an ice cream store while traveling. They stepped inside to wash their hands, returned after a moment, and the dog and chair were gone. Later, they found the chair a distance away, but they never found their dog.

Another time, someone tethered their dog to a tree in their backyard for a couple of hours of sunshine and fresh air. The dog escaped, and I assisted them in locating the dog the next day. The dog was found in a wooded area, wrapped around a tree by the tether, unable to move.

I am also the former president of a no-kill shelter in my county. The county consists of a new, progressive and growing area to the south and an older, rural area to the north. I was heavily involved in legislative issues at the state and local level.

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Big dog with doghouse by Shutterstock.

One of the issues involved anti-tethering laws for the county. The county was torn between those who never left their dogs tethered and those who tethered their dog often or on a full-time basis outside. Those tethered outside were often left with little shelter to protect them from the elements and poor conditions in which to live. It actually took two years for the citizens, including myself, to convince the county that anti-tethering laws were necessary in order to ensure that dogs were not left outside on tethers for their entire lives. 

I recently came across a product on the market called Stay Boy Lock. The product claims to provide an alternative to leaving your dog on a leash tethered to a pole while you quickly run into a store. It works similarly to a lock that you’d use on a bicycle. It has a long metal cable with an adjustable noose on one end that slips around the dog’s head and a combination lock on the other end to secure to a post or tree.

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From the Stay Boy Lock website.

I’ve not used the Stay Boy Lock with my dog. And, personally, while it’s an improvement over simply tying your dog’s leash to a pole outside of a store while you shop in hopes that they’re still there when you return, someone could use wire cutters to cut the cable and steal your dog. Worse yet, your dog could become tangled in the cable while waiting for your return.

If you’ve read my previous articles on Dogster, you know that I take my dog, Dusty, virtually everywhere I go. She stays with me, my wife, or both of us at all times. I would never dream of tethering her outside of a store unless one of us stayed with her. If she can’t go inside the store, then my wife or I will stay with her outside or in the car. Her safety is our main priority, and we’d never leave her unattended outside.

Let's hear from you, readers. Would you tether your dog for any reason? Do you believe there are circumstances in which it's appropriate? What do you do when you see a dog who's been tethered? Let us know in the comments!

Dog theft is on the rise, and tethering dogs might be a contributor. Read "8 Ways to Get Your Dog Stolen." Read other stories by Tim Link including "Does Your Dog’s Personality Match Yours?," "Does Your Dog Stick His Tongue Out in Photos on Purpose?," and "This Sounds Nuts, But I Believe in Reincarnation for Dogs."

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