Help save dogs from a life of being chained up: Group wants people to speak up

PHOTO: Chained Dog Awareness Singapore

"Rusty" the dog spends all day, every day, chained to a wall in his owner's garden.

Nicknamed by volunteers after the rusty chain he is tethered to, Rusty has room only to sit, stand and pace in the same small area.

After volunteers' efforts and investigations by the authorities, Rusty's owner has lengthened the chain, but the dog remains tethered to the wall.

The practice of chaining dogs remains legal in Singapore, but one group hopes to raise awareness of the harmful effects this has on the animals.

"Keeping a dog on a chain or a tether outside might not always seem like a malicious act. These owners may not know about the detrimental effects," said Ms May Ling, 50, co-founder of Chained Dog Awareness Singapore (CDAS).

Chaining a dog for long periods can result in pain, injury and sore necks from constant tugging of the chain. It can also affect a dog's psychological well-being and cause it to become anxious or even aggressive.

It is a "tradition that has been passed on over many generations and is difficult to curb", said Ms Anita Chew, 50, co-founder of CDAS.

Founded in March last year by three volunteers who help find homes for rescued dogs, the not-for-profit group focuses specifically on the welfare of chained dogs in Singapore. Ms Darrell Lee, 46, owns an ad agency, Ms Chew works part-time in the hospitality industry and Ms Ling, 50, is a financial adviser. The trio juggle their jobs with their dogged determination to save the animals from a lifetime of being chained up.

CDAS will be holding its first public outreach event, Break The Chain, on May 21 and 22, from 1pm to 7pm, at the Urban Plaza, Shaw House, in Orchard Road.

Apart from raising awareness, the event also aims to encourage more people to step up and speak out against dog owners who tether their pets.

While people who witness dogs being chained may feel for the animals, some are hesitant to approach the owners or alert the authorities. Here are some tips from CDAS on what to do if you see a dog being chained up for long periods:

Monitor the dog's condition and situation, including the length of its chain.

Speak to the owner of the dog directly and offer to help by walking the dog. Members of the public can also alert CDAS and work together to educate the owners of the chained dog.

Though some people may feel uncomfortable about reporting a neighbour, "it's precisely this mindset that has led to many people turning a blind eye", said Ms Ling.

Over the last five years, 655 cases of dogs being chained or caged were reported to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said SPCA acting executive director Jaipal Singh Gill.

"There are many dogs that spend most of their lives at the end of a chain or in a cage, and it is time we did better for man's best friend," said Dr Gill.

"There is really no other way, except to be the voice for our dogs," said Ms Ling. "We need education to change the mindset of these chained dog owners and also prevent others from tethering their dogs."

For more information on the event this weekend or the group's work, visit their Facebook page.