Q & A: Unchained
A Virginia city passes a chaining ordinance a decade in the making
In December 2009, the city council of Danville, Va., unanimously passed an ordinance that strictly limits the amount of time people are allowed to keep their pets on chains. The ordinance, which will go into effect this July, forbids the chaining of any animal for more than four hours in any 24-hour period, and forbids the practice outright for animals who are injured or under 4 months old, and during times when the temperature reaches freezing.
The new law is the endpoint of years of work by Paulette Dean, executive director of the Danville Area Humane Society, and her staff and network of supporters. In December, Mike Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund—a 501(c)(3) that lobbies for animal welfare legislation and works to elect humane-minded candidates to public office—interviewed Dean about her experiences and published the conversation on his blog; we’re reprinting an excerpted version here.
As Markarian pointed out, many animal shelter leaders believe they can’t lobby for animal protection laws, or are so overwhelmed with day-to-day operations that they don’t have the time to spend on advocacy. “But,” Markarian wrote, “if we only address the symptoms of the problems when animals are in distress, we will never get to the root causes of those problems and prevent animals from ending up in distress in the first place.”