Chain-Off Wichita Falls ended 2015 with 133 freed dogs and 73 fences completed. Let’s see what’s it takes to make this awesome program work.
Chain-Off consist of a very small group of people. Alice Shaffer, our Chain-Off Director, accepts and processes all of our applications. She keeps track of our data and organizes our volunteers. The dirty work is handled by an elite crew of 9. We have 5 leads that make sure our fences are put up properly and guide the volunteers. We have 4 volunteers that show up regularly to help the leads. We also require our pet owners to supply labor. Considering our leads/volunteers have other commitments and actual jobs, we usually have 2-3 max available any given weekend. Factor in unreliable Texas weather and our 73 builds are pretty impressive.
We need more help and have been publicly posting our builds each week on the Chain Off Facebook page. We hope to grow and do more than 1 fence each weekend. Volunteers are not our only restriction though. Fences are expensive and we have spent $29,458.08 so far. Only $6,500.00 of this is grant funding. The rest we raised ourselves. Chain-Off is not our only program so we stretch all our resources (money, volunteers, donors, etc.) as thin as possible. This is not easy and money is the biggest obstacle any non-profit faces.
Why Chain-Off? Obviously, no one wants to see a dog living its life on a chain. Chaining has horrible consequences: neglect, abuse, inability to reach shelter or food/water, aggression, etc. You can read more at HSUS FAQs. However, in order to get an ordinance passed in Wichita Falls, our city council required a program be created to build fences and help pet owners comply. PETS stepped up to the plate and created Chain-Off WF. Without our involvement, it would still be legal to chain dogs in our community. We are required to keep the program going for 3 years or until Sept 2016. We started the program 6 months earlier than required and have no intention of walking away when our commitment is fulfilled. We will need your support to keep going though. Positive Change cost time, energy, and money.
133 freed dogs may not seem like a lot but hundreds of families complied on their own. Are there still chained dogs in Wichita Falls? Sadly, yes! What are we doing about it? PETS’ Out-Reach team pounds the pavement every friday. We speak with pet owners, provide them information about available resources and when all else fails, we do report them. PETS has no authority to enforce the ordinance but we work very closely with Animal Services and all of the Animal Control Officers carry our information. It is our joint hope to help each pet owner free their animal. We do not want the animals seized if another solution can be worked out and neither do our Animal Control Officers, several of whom are quite involved in our Chain-Off program on their days off. One ACO serves as a regular lead and runs our FB page on his own time. We even had an entire build exclusively of Animal Control Officers. With that said, there have been seizures and many tickets issued. Our ordinance is not perfect and neither is our legal system. The laws protect people and make it hard for people to protect animals. It can be very frustrating. No one in animal welfare has an easy job. However, our ordinance is a great place to start and has resulted in hundreds of unchained dogs.
Change does not happen overnight but it does happen and we are seeing great progress in the Falls. If you see a chained dog, report it. If you have ideas for legislation that can help better the lives of animals, follow through. Nothing happens if you do nothing. If you have time or money to donate, please do. PETS has many amazing programs that increase the quality of life for pets in our community. There are a lot of ways to give back and many organizations to give to. Visit our No-Kill WF page for details. We can’t do this all by ourselves. Giving back is good for the soul. Get involved and help us change lives one chain at a time.