A funny thing happened when I said "hi" to a nice family dog

While it's hardly a crisis (and in the light of the Obamacare atrocity it may seem downright frivolous), the more I think about a seemingly minor annoyance yesterday, the more it deserves a post, as I think it sheds light upon the downright despicable mentality of activists.

A neighboring family consists of a husband and wife, their two toddlers, and a sweet and lovable Siberian husky, named "Kaz." Kaz is a family dog, and a social dog, who takes delight in being a "porch dog." He likes to sit on the front porch and just basically pay attention to what's going on in the neighborhood. He knows me, as I walk by the place almost daily on the way to the store, and he likes to wag his tail and walk down the front steps to greet me. When he is on the front porch, he is kept on 10' long piece of cable which is tied to the metal railing. It's a sensible thing to do, as the street is fairly busy, and considering the numerous distractions in the form of other dogs, cats, and those fiendish squirrels whose goal is to make dogs miserable, allowing him totally free reign would be inadvisable, and might cause him to be run over.

Anyway, yesterday when I walked by and stopped to say hello to Kaz, the mom and her little son were out on the porch too, and after a brief exchange, she told me that someone had called the cops about Kaz. Not because he was barking (he's a quiet dog) but because he was tied up! I was aghast. After all, Kaz is my friend, and these people are neighbors. I had heard about some crackpot movement to pass "anti-tethering laws," but I hadn't really devoted any time to the issue, but fortunately neither Michagan nor Ann Arbor has passed them. So all the police could do was investigate whether Kaz the victim of "dog endangerment." (Itself an absurd idea.) This woman was clearly stressed by the experience -- distraught that any neighbor would do such a thing, and all I could do was express sympathy

The more I thought about the sort of vicious busybody who would sic the police on a loving family like that, the more I realized that the caller was most likely the sort of animal rights activist who is against dog ownership, thinks dogs should not be bred (there are no responsible dog breeders), and agitates constantly to make life as difficult as possible for dog owners. (The idea being to deter dog ownership as we have known it.) They consider their activities to be a form of "morality."

For now, they seek to make it illegal to tether or chain dogs. There are several leading websites, and the goal is not only to work against "chaining" (which means any sort of tying), but they also also advocate laws against "penning":

Get laws in your city, county, state or country against the chaining and penning of dogs for life.
Except the legislation they support prohibit any sort of tethering at all. Here's Little Rock's law:
Section 6-16:
Direct point chaining, or tethering of dogs to a stationary object, is prohibited.
If Ann Arbor passed that, it would be the end of Kaz's happy career as a porch dog, and nice people who own him would become criminals.

That's the whole idea. Make it tougher and tougher, in the hope of discouraging dog ownership. (Actually, they want to abolish dog ownership entirely, by replacing owners with "guardians" -- the latter being essentially state ownership accomplished by self-appointed busybody activists hauling the former owners into court.)

And if you don't think they are busybodies, read what they say about "Talking to Owners":

...say something like:

* I am a volunteer with the humane society and I came by to offer you some free resources for your dog (even if you are not a member of a specific humane society, most people recognize the term "humane society volunteer" as someone who cares about animals.)
* I live in the area and saw your dog in the backyard. I have an extra doghouse I'd be happy to bring over. Is that OK?
* I noticed your dog lives on a chain. I'm sure he would love the chance to exercise. Could I come by a few times a week to walk your dog?

The site seems to lament that because dogs are property, stealing a chained dog is illegal:
Some people steal chained dogs to provide a better life for them. The problem with that is that the owners might put an new puppy right back on the chain. And, since dogs are legally considered property, stealing a dog is a felony.
What a shame that it's illegal for one of these crackpot activists to simply snatch Kaz away from his loving family!

I am trying not to be emotional (and it was not easy to write this post, because I had trouble calming down), but all I can say is that these people are sneaky, despicable bastards. Just about as low as you can get.

Lest anyone think they are isolated crackpots, the movement works closely with and is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States. The latter urges activists to become involved in a campaign to shame tethered dog owners, by submitting their addresses to website and then having special "Valentines" sent to them.

We are striving to raise awareness for chained and penned dogs in a positive way...by delivering Valentines, a brochure and a treat coupon to dogs living outside all over the U.S. and into other countries where we have representation, such as Canada and Australia.


....Send addresses for Chained or Penned Dogs. This is so CRUCIAL! Please, take the time to find out the address of that chained or penned dog near you, even though it takes a little time...To make our goal, we need to mail at least 12,500 Valentines. Send addresses via mail, call 877.636.1408 to report addresses, e-mail them to info@dogsdeservebetter.org. or fill out the form, below (preferred). You remain anonymous!

It's basically a slick form of psychological warfare on dog owners, with a goal of inculcating an attitude of moral superiority in children, "educating" them in animal rights ideology and encouraging snooping on total strangers, like my neighbors:
"This is the perfect opportunity for people who pass chained dogs every day but feel powerless to help them to make a difference," continues Thayne. "People can anonymously provide us with the addresses of
these dogs, or make us a batch of Valentines, and we'll do the rest."

The creation of the Valentines is an ideal project for schools, scouting troops, and other similar organizations. "Children have a natural affinity for animals and they enjoy making art projects," says Thayne, an artist herself. "In this way we remind children of proper caretaking, and educate guardians as well."

Again, guardians are not owners. The goal is nothing less than the abolition of dog ownership, with concomitant vast new powers for the activists.

Power seeking is what activists do. It is very difficult for ordinary people to grasp what they're up against, because they tend to assume good faith. And when they see pictures of abused dogs with chains embedded in their flesh, they might even become supportive of new laws (forgetting, of course, that laws against animal cruelty already make it a crime to neglect or abuse dogs, whether on chains or not.)

The paradox is how to fight activist busybodies without becoming one. I'm allergic to them. If only there were some sort of "leave people alone" lobby. But you can't leave activists alone, because that plays right into their hands. Leaving them alone guarantees that they will not leave you alone.

Anyway, when they won't even leave nice people alone to enjoy their family dog, I must protest.

MORE: Great comments; Andrew C.'s point about HSUS is well taken, and I have discussed the organization's radicalism in several posts. Like many activists, they are basically hard core extremists who use slick media PR techniques to market themselves as mainstream.

And Donna Barber reminded me of another important point when she said,

It would seem that these people really don't like dogs.
Actually, they don't especially like dogs, as both PETA and HSUS oppose all domestication of animals and long term, they do not think people should be owning them.

What fascinates me the most about ever more restrictive dog laws is the collusion that results between animal rights activists (who dislike the keeping of dogs because of domestication), and plain old dog haters (who would love to see fewer dogs, and support any laws making it tougher). That they manage to dupe clueless citizens who love dogs and get them to go along with it is a testament to their skill at sheer political legerdemain.

Imagine if organized "children's rights" groups did the same thing! ("For the children.")

posted by Eric on 03.24.10 at 11:17 AM


Our city (Asheville NC) just passed a no chain ordinance. Idiots.

RT   ·  March 24, 2010 11:31 AM

These folks are -- to me -- frivolous. They don't distinguish between abuse and merely tethering animals. It's disturbing. Read "Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism" by Daniel Burnham, especially for his quiz of "accepted" notions of a liberal. Stellar book.

DC Handgun Info   ·  March 24, 2010 11:47 AM

These folks are -- to me -- frivolous. They don't distinguish between abuse and merely tethering animals. It's disturbing. Read "Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism" by Daniel Burnham, especially for his quiz of "accepted" notions of a liberal. Stellar book.

DC Handgun Info   ·  March 24, 2010 11:56 AM

DCHI, I think Eric had it right on: this isn't about abuse of animals; it's about power. Same as the recent health care vote.

Tom   ·  March 24, 2010 12:41 PM

The overarching problem is that we, as a society, have become the victims of our own success; there are just too many people with too much free time on their hands.

These activists need to be put to work with picks and shovels. Hey! Now there's an idea for an activist non-profit organization!

T   ·  March 24, 2010 12:45 PM

Nevada passed an anti-tethering law in 2009. As these things go, though, that law was certainly intrusive, but it was also clearly designed to prevent abusive forms of tethering: the chains or tethers must be at least 12 feet long, and no dog can be tethered for more than 14 hours a day. So while I have problems with the busybodies behind the anti-tethering movement, in this instance, I'm not up at arms over this particular law (which seems to codify what should be sensible practice).

Kurt   ·  March 24, 2010 1:04 PM

Keep in mind, the HSUS has no association with local Humane Societies. They are a solely a political advocacy group. They are much like PETA (perhaps even a little more nuts!). Association with them is not a sign of being mainstream.

I do think long-term restraint of dogs to a small area is unethical. Tie a dog to a tree 24/7 for years, and that dog is likely to go a little crazy. The problem is, laws are rarely written well enough to only get the true problem behavior - and as an occasional observer, it's easy to get the wrong idea of a dog's treatment.

For instance, one of my parents' neighbors have a dog that looks starved, and is always running loose. Someone who happens by would likely conclude the dog is abused. I know that their dog is a high-energy spaz who burns calories as fast as she can eat them! She's self-feeding, and they keep her food bowl full. She is also highly trained, will not set foot off their property line without her owner alongside her.

So while animal protection laws are usually well-intentioned, the end result is usually worse than doing nothing.

Andrew C   ·  March 24, 2010 3:16 PM

I sit here for a while flabergasted, how can you put into words the frustrations you feel about the idiocy that is going on in this country. Kurt - Your probably right they pass the laws and the innocent victims of their laws are far reaching. And it works both ways; not only in the restrictions but the giveaways. How many of you know people on unemployment, they collect until two weeks before it runs out; then they get a job. One in 99 actually needed assistance but took it as long as they could. There's only one answer; no more government welfare, hopefully some humanitartion or church will step up and help the one in 99 that needed help.

Keith   ·  March 24, 2010 4:10 PM

Sorry - Andrew C.

Keith   ·  March 24, 2010 4:11 PM

Here is the response to "I saw your dog tethered in your backyard..."

No, I don't want you near my dog or my property. If you come near my house or my dog again, I am going to permanently shorten his lead 5 feet.

Kevin   ·  March 24, 2010 4:34 PM

Good grief.

It would seem that these people really don't like dogs.

Donna B.   ·  March 24, 2010 5:29 PM

Hey, my Dobermans (three so far, I'm a serial Doberman owner) would pass muster.

The house rule is no leaving the yard.

It takes about a year to teach absolutely. Distractions and temptations are used early and often. (After Koehler's methods.)

The trick then is to find a breeder who will sell you a pup if you don't have a fence; they don't believe it's possible.

That's the other school. Nobody trains dogs seriously anymore.

rhhardin   ·  March 24, 2010 7:48 PM

Please note that the despicable shitwads at the Humane Society of the United States are not the same as the American Humane Society, which is a genuine animal welfare organization.

mikesixes   ·  March 24, 2010 8:04 PM

The "vicious busybody" who set the authorities on this woman sounds like the type of person who would seize upon any excuse to make a neighbor miserable.

Here in Chicago we have an ordinance that requires your dog to be on a leash at all times when outdoors. Your neighbor would be absolutely in compliance. But a vicious meddler could make use of the ordinance that forbids dogs on the beach, and make a point of watching the beach from her window at 5 AM just to report anyone walking her dog on the beach... as if Chicago had no larger problem than that. Or, if you don't have a dog, smoking on the beach, which was OK until 2007.

We have so many invasive laws forbidding or limiting so many innocuous personal behaviors that the malicious busybodies of the world have endless ways to make your life miserable.

Laura Louzader   ·  March 25, 2010 7:49 AM

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