Dogs Deserve Better chapter shows support of stricter animal tethering bills

STAUNTON, Va. -- In the past few years, there have been ongoing proposals in the General Assembly to limit or outlaw dog tethering, and yet another new bill has been proposed this year.

Dogs Deserve Better Blue Ridge printed hundreds of postcards to encourage people to write to their state senator and delegate.

Virginia law doesn't prevent dogs from spending their lives at the end of a chain, and since they can't speak for themselves, Dogs Deserve Better Blue Ridge, a Charlottesville-based non-profit, made it their goal to raise awareness of inhumane dog tethering and show state legislators just how much they support the proposed bills.

Dogs Deserve Better Blue Ridge hosted a "Postcards and Pints" event at Skipping Rock Beer Co. in Staunton encouraging people to write to their state senator and delegate about their support in passing the tethering bills. Kimberly Hawk, a founding member of Dogs Deserve Better Blue Ridge, said they pre-printed 400 postcards, brought enough stamps, and planned to mail the postcards themselves.

"We advocate for more humane treatment and laws for chained dogs, because we see a lot of suffering out there," Hawk said. "We know that even little changes will make a big difference for the dogs that are chained up."

Dogs Deserve Better Blue Ridge is dedicated to freeing chained and penned dogs. They also serve as shelter to foster and later re-home rescued dogs, provide spay, neuter and medical services, and help provide adequate, insulated housing and pens for outdoor dogs.

Virginia SB 272 and Virginia HB 1552 propose dogs not be tethered between 10p.m. and 6a.m., when there is no owner on the property, when the temperature is below 32 degrees and above 85 degrees, and during a weather advisory.

"The House and the Senate have flipped and we do have some more animal friendly legislators now, so we're hoping this could be the year," Hawk said.

The postcard features Buddy, a dog who was kept outdoors 24/7 for three years by his previous owners. When Buddy was rescued by Dogs Deserve Better Blue Ridge, he had heart worms, Lyme disease and was antisocial.

"He wasn't mistreated, he just wasn't treated," Paul Hildebrand, Buddy's new owner, said. "The people that had him just looked at him like livestock, like goats and chickens."

Hildebrand calls himself a "failed foster" because after two days fostered Buddy, he decided to adopt him. After being trained, loved and socialized, Buddy is now a certified therapy dog.