Great Investigative Piece in the Indy

The Indy has a great investigative story this week about how a member of Orange County's committee studying whether the county should limit the practice of tethering dogs on chains or ropes has extensive ties to the dog fighting industry.

An excerpt from reporter Ashley Roberts' story:

When Alane Koki applied to become a member of an Orange County citizens' committee studying whether the county should limit the practice of tethering dogs on chains or ropes, she submitted a 13-page résumé citing numerous accomplishments as a scientist and medical researcher: a doctorate in zoology, a dozen patents, and publication in more than 50 journals.

What Koki didn't list in her application, however, was her long history of breeding pit bulls in other states and her association with local kennel owner Tom Garner, a nationally known breeder of pit bulls and a convicted dog fighter whom commissioners declined to appoint to the committee the same night they approved Koki.

Also chilling is the aerial photo they show of breeder Tom Garner's property full of pit bulls on chains.

Mike Nelson has shown a lot of interest in this issue so if you're interested in more background you can see it here on his blog.

Definitely a good read and the type of hard investigation I think folks like to see from the Indy. Check it out the full story here.



The story makes a strong case for the abolition of the dog fighting industry, where the dogs (typically pit bulls) are chained as part of their killer breeding. The story doesn't go far enough to advocate for laws against the tethering of dogs, period, unless it's the twice-daily walk on a leash.

The APS gives prospective dog adopters two options: Either keep this dog indoors or in a fenced yard. People who can't promise either should not keep dogs. Tethering makes any dog miserable and crazy. They howl; they bite; and they often die by strangulation.

Perhaps some people are concerned about adopting dogs because of the cost of fencing or whether fencing is even allowed in their neighborhood, etc. We've used invisible fencing for years and it works well, is unobtrusive, and our dogs have the freedom to run over the entire yard playing with each other and chasing squirrels (with the eternal hope they might someday catch one). Although the cost might still be beyond the means of some, I believe you can get a system now at the home improvement stores or Petsmart or the like for

My last sentences got cut off (they do that whenever I use the 'less than' or 'greater than' symbols on the keyboard). They should read:
Although the cost might still be beyond the means of some, I believe you can get a system now at the home improvement stores or Petsmart or the like for less than $300 and you can take the system with you if you move. There really is no rationale for tethering a dog - either for its welfare or the owner's convenience.

When I lived in Northside, a neighbor was given an adorable puppy that was kept chained to their back stoop 90% of the time. Some of my friends who were horrified by this donated a dog house to them, but they didn't really get it. I offered to walk it but they said it wasn't needed. I never could figure out a polite way to say "you are hurting this animal, and it's not worth keeping it if you keep it like this."

I don't think the argument that a fence would cost less than $300 would have made any difference to this this guy. He was renting and barely living on public assistance. We need better public education.

Any person who derives amusement or profit from dog fighting is a very sick individual indeed.

We installed an invisible fence once and made sure to shock ourselves with it (YEOWWW) before collaring the dog. It scared the crap out of him on the first pass. He stayed home forever after that, and died of old age.

A real fence doesn't have to be fancy or even visible. The one we have now (different pooch) is made of wire and encloses the whole back yard just beyond where the grass grows. You'd never guess it was there.


I'm sure you're right that a $300 invisible fence would not have been an option for your neighbors and they didn't 'get it'. What I was thinking of when I brought this up was that group of people who would consider adopting a dog but do 'get it' and wouldn't want to leave a dog tethered but also think they can't afford or aren't allowed to have a fence. Most of the adoption groups I know question prospective adopters to verify that they understand the cost of having an animal. And they now usually ask about a yard or how the animal will be exercised. Given the yearly cost of feeding and veterinary visits for a dog I think invisible fencing is a reasonably cheap alternative to traditional fencing that might allow some additional adoptions that might not otherwise take place. Given the still very high euthanasia rate at our shelter I'm in favor of anything that will help move us to a no-kill policy.

Again, it's not the act that is wrong, but the people committing the act wrongly. We had a fence in the backyard for my dog growing up; she could run and play as much as she wanted all day. But sometimes, we'd put her in the front yard on a tether while we were doing something else or if the fence was being worked on. She had a long line, it wasn't tightly attached, she was in the shade, and she could run around as much as she wanted and had food and water right there. She liked it. We did it rarely and basically just when she wanted a change of scenery. Tethering is not wrong.

However, keeping a dog on a short chain, tightly tied, in the hot sun, with no food or water for a lot of the time is wrong. It's not tethering, but the type of tethering, that matters.

One big downside to an invisible fence is that the poor dog has to wear a pretty large receiver on the collar all the time-- heavy especially for a smaller dog. Maybe they've reduced the size of the systems now, though.

When I was a second or third year law student back in 1974, a fellow law student and his spouse were renting a house somewhere out near Weaver Dairy Road. The neighbors had a dog that they kept CHAINED to a tree in the front yard. The neighbors left on VACATION, leaving the dog tied to the tree. After a day, my classmate took the dog over to his house, and began caring for it like it was his own, took it to the vet, fed it, etc. The neighbors returned after a week, but NEVER said anything. My classmate even listed the dog for property taxes (at the time this was a requirement, dogs are no longer subjcet to property tax). At the end of the school year, the neighbor (apparently a grad student), was packing up to leave Chapel Hill and came over and asked for his dog back. My classmate said "YOUR dog?" and refused. The neighbor went to the magistrate and got a warrant for the classmates arrest charging dognapping, and my classmate was arrested. 50 of us went to District Court on the trial date (I'm thinking Barry Winston or Steve Bernholz was my classmate's attormey, but I could be wrong) to show support, District Court at the time was on the top floor of the old Town Hall at Columbia and Rosemary. The attorney made a motion to dismiss and the case was thrown out.


I agree that there are certain circumstances in which tethering might be acceptable. One of my dogs recently had leg surgery and thus couldn't be allowed to run free in the yard (we have invisible fence) lest she overdo it and injure her leg again. But she wanted to be outdoors to enjoy the fresh air for longer periods than our simple walks allowed. So I 'tethered' her on the back patio, with ample shade and fresh water, for an hour or two. She could then enjoy the fresh air and keep track of our other dog who could roam at will (again, invisible fence).

BTW, the receivers have gotten much smaller and I've never heard an owner complain that their dog objected to them.


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