Mission to Unchain Dogs Rises to New Levels

Shadow with Melinda

Shadow with Melinda

For 10 years, a sweet yellow lab in rural Yamhill County spent all of his days and nights on a zip line on his owner’s unfenced property. While he was cared for, life on the tether was monotonous and restricted.

Melinda Miller, client outreach volunteer for Fences For Fido (FFF) approached the family in 2013 and offered them a free fence for their dog. That’s what FFF has done without judgment for six years, and later this year will unchain its 1000th canine.

Unfortunately, the family said no to the fence. They didn’t feel their dog needed it.

So the Lab stayed tethered — until Miller approached the family again the next year. This time, she had support for her cause in the form of Oregon House Bill 2783. Pushed by a coalition of animal welfare groups including FFF, the bill became law January 1, 2014, prohibiting the chaining of dogs for more than 10 hours at a time. It also restricts tethering, such as the yellow Lab endured, to no more than 15 hours.

At first, the family didn’t believe Miller when she told them about the law. But she sent them a copy of the new statute as proof — and this past July, the yellow Lab got his fence.

 “While FFF will always be respectful and patient with our families, we must be reflective of the needs of our community,” says FFF founder Kelly Peterson. “To that end, we needed to elevate the standards of care, asking our families to search out ways to better meet the needs of their four-legged family members yet not absolving our own responsibility as an organization to be there for them.”

In truth, laws are a critical component to solving the overarching problem of chaining. Peterson feels that’s especially important as FFF expands to other areas.

“It has helped us reach out to more people who were perhaps simply unaware of the new law or uneasy about our offer of a free fence before the new law,” she says. “Fences For Fido is positioned to help families that are struggling to be in compliance and who want better for their four-legged family members. Bottom line, we are a resource for people and their pets.”

It’s certainly a great resource as far as the dogs are concerned. On the day he was released into his newly fenced yard, the old yellow Lab in Yamhill County ran around like a puppy. 

“I didn’t think he’d be so happy,” admitted his once-reluctant owner. 

• FENCES FOR FIDO 503-621-9225 •

Michele Coppola is a veteran Portland radio personality and copywriter for Entercom Radio as well as the new Managing Editor for Spot Magazine. She shares a home and couch space with her three rescue pooches Lucy, Bailey, and Ginny--as well as Bryon, the stray man she married six years ago.