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Imagine yourself standing in the middle of an 8 foot diameter circle and spending the rest of your life there. Imagine waking up every morning knowing that you will spend almost every minute of that day alone. Imagine not being able to walk more than a few feet in any direction, dragging a chain along with you every time you move. You long to run but you can only pace. Imagine looking longingly through the window of your family’s home, watching as they go about their lives without you, hoping that today you might be brought inside to be with them. Imagine the mind-numbing boredom of doing nothing but sitting in the same spot all day, every day, never knowing the sheer joy of running free or chasing a ball, of playing with other dogs, or lying on a soft bed at your owner’s feet. This is what life is like day after day, year after year for thousands of resident dogs throughout the country. 

Unlike family pets, resident dogs are not welcome inside their home as members of their family. They live alone in the yard, in a pen, on a chain, or inside a shed or garage. Resident dogs have addresses, not homes. Chained and penned dogs must eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in a single confined area. They swelter and suffer from heat stroke in the summer, freeze and die from hypothermia in the winter. The necks of chained dogs can become raw and infected from constant rubbing. Tethers can become entangled around other objects further restricting their movement. In 2008, a Saint Bernard who became hopelessly entangled in the cord she was tethered with tried to chew off her own leg in an attempt to free herself. Many chained dogs have hung themselves when they have attempted to gain freedom by jumping over their fences. 

But all the ways that chained and cruelly confined dogs physically suffer pale in comparison to the emotional torment they endure by being isolated and consistently alone. Humans have specifically bred dogs for thousands of generations to want to be our constant companions more than they want anything else. Isolating a dog from their family is one of the cruelest things we can do to them.  Resident dogs suffer from intense boredom, loneliness, frustration, anxiety, depression and insanity. Eventually they lose all hope and their defeated souls are clearly evident. And yet, this cruelty is entirely supported by our current federal, provincial and municipal laws.  As long as this cruelty is legal how we can never consider ourselves a humane people. 

Legislation on a provincial and municipal level is necessary to end the suffering of cruelly confined dogs in Canada. The legislation we are recommending is as follows:

“No tethering of unattended dogs” (A responsible adult must be outside with a tethered dog and have them in visual range at all times.) 

"No person will keep a dog confined to an enclosure smaller than 15 square meters. Such enclosures must be well ventilated and provide shelter from the sun, rain, wind and provide protection from extreme temperatures. The maximum time a dog may be confined to such an enclosure is 9 hours in a 24 hour period. The maximum number of dogs that may be contained in a 15 square meter enclosure is two. The enclosure must be increased by an additional 5 square meters for each additional dog over two." 

This legislation will be sent to every provincial minister in Canada responsible for animal welfare legislation. When enacted, it will ensure that Canadian dogs can no longer be cruelly constrained or confined. But it will also help animal control officers close down puppymills that do not comply with these humane housing standards. The suffering of tens of thousands of dogs across Canada will be ended by the enactment of this vital legislation.  

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