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Missouri Rep Joan McKenna

St. Louis County launches new animal help line

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St. Louis (KSDK) -- "Heffie's Help Line" a free resource for area pet owners and pet advocates, was launched Wednesday by Saint Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and Health Department Director Dr. Dolores J. Gunn.

"Anyone who calls 314-615-1777 can report cases of animal abuse that will be investigated within 48 hours," Dooley said.

"You don't have to identify yourself to get help for any animal that may be tethered in violation of county ordinances or suffering other forms of abuse," Dooley said.

Callers can also get information on low cost spay/neuter programs including the Saint Louis County Animal Care and Control Voucher program as well as many other animal welfare related resources. The help line is available on a 24/7 basis.

The new service is part of an expansion of Animal Care and Control Services that includes opening a new facility next summer. The facility will double the county's space for cats and dogs and will provide additional space for vector control offices.

"The new animal care and adoption center will be a state-of-the-art facility and will offer the best possible treatment for the animals in our care," Dooley said.

The help line is in partnership with several animal welfare organizations, including the Animal Protective Association (APA); The Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO); Operation Stop Pet Over Population Today (SPOT); Dogs Deserve Better, Benefitting Animals Through Responsibility and Compassion (BARC) and Metro Animal.

"Collaboration with other animal welfare ambassadors will be the key to the help line's success as it allows us to reach out to more residents and offer more assistance," Dr. Gunn said.

Other recorded information that can be accessed through the help line includes: pet adoption, lost and found, animal ordinances, and volunteering. Information will be mailed to those who do not have computer access.

The help line is named in honor of Heffie, a two-year-old pit bull who spent most of his life tied to a chain in an outside enclosure in violation of local tethering laws. The help line will allow citizens to report illegal tethering and abuse anonymously so that dogs like Heffie have a better chance at a safe environment. Heffie was rescued earlier this year but later died of natural causes.

More information can be found at:



O’Fallon expected to restrict dog tethering
By: Mary Ann O’Toole Holley

Strolling through a well-kept neighborhood of manicured lawns and suburban lovers of life should be a pleasant experience for resident Joan McKenna. Instead, she consistently finds herself outraged by a sight she finds equal to animal abuse.

“Tethering dogs 24/7 outside with no shelter and no socialization is recognized as being cruel and inhumane by every single humane agency in the country,” McKenna told the O’Fallon City Council at a meeting last month. “Not only is it a threat to the animal’s physical and mental well being; it is a public safety threat to children, in terms of dog bites and dog attacks.”

Councilman Pierce Conley said he received an e-mail from McKenna last month complaining of a dog that was chained outdoors for extended periods. He immediately brought it forward to the council.

“I am an animal lover, and don’t like to see animals mistreated by being tethered all the time,” Conley said. “Animal Control officers said they didn’t have any way of preventing this, and I wanted to see something done.”

Conley submitted a proposed ordinance prohibiting the tethering of dogs for extended periods, preventing them from reaching their food and water. It is expected to be approved at the council’s June 11 meeting.

“The ordinance gives us extended opportunities to make sure dogs and cats are being cared for,” Conley said. “It will allow Animal Control officers to look for it. To me it won’t be the easiest thing to enforce, but I think it’s good for the animals. I don’t think you should have your animal chained up outside in the heat or cold. I agree with McKenna. When animals are continually on a chain, they knock over the food and water and are basically being mistreated when left tied all day long.”

McKenna said when she moved to O’Fallon, she would walk through her neighborhood and see a dog chained day and night, during inclement weather, with no socialization. She contacted the O’Fallon Animal Control division, who spent time looking at the case, but the Animal Control officers found that there wasn’t a law in place that was strong enough to allow intervention.

“Chaining dogs is dangerous for the dog, other animals and children,” McKenna said. “Tethered dogs have to live their entire lives at the end of a chain. They don’t know socialization, they are in a small area, and they eat, sleep and are forced to go to the bathroom in a very, very small area. This is just inhumane.”

McKenna said research indicates that those who tether their dogs are also less likely to clean the areas, and the areas are often void of grass from the dog running in the same space, and there is often no shade or shelter.

“Dogs are social beings and need to interact with people, and tethering causes psychological damage to the dog,” McKenna said. “You may have a docile dog that becomes aggressive after being chained for many years. Those dogs react in a ‘fight or flight’ way if approached by strangers, and often bite. They can get entangled or hang themselves if wrapped around a tree, and often do not have access to food and water.”

McKenna said one study says those animals that are chained consistently are 5.4 times more likely to bite children than unchained dogs. The Center for Disease Control has information on 50 children ages 1 or older who were killed from 1979 to 1988, who had wandered too close to chained dogs.

“I believe that we can change this. Keeping a chained dog outside breeds aggressiveness not protectiveness,” McKenna said. “We’d like to educate first and foremost and give people a chance to understand the implications of chaining an animal for extended periods.”

The ordinance would not affect those who temporarily tether their animals outdoors for fresh air, recreation or to relieve themselves.


Make sure you know the chaining laws in your community before chainging your dog outside.

Joan McKenna dog
Make sure you know the chaining laws in your community
before chainging your dog outside.



Anti-chaining laws in St. Louis area are part of a growing trend
By Kathleen Berger

Baden, Ill (KSDK) -- We've had one hot day after another this summer. Pet advocates warn: with summer heat, do not chain your dogs for too long. If you chain your dogs improperly, you could be breaking the law.

NewsChannel 5 drove through Baden during the heat of day on Friday and immediately found two homes with chained dogs. There's no telling how long the dogs have been in the yard with the heavy, thick chains around their necks. The yards are fenced in the front, so few neighbors would know. You can only see the dogs from the ally.

Animal behavior experts say chaining a dog in your yard is inhumane and dangerous. Chained dogs become aggressive, and are three times more likely to bite. That makes it a public safety issue.

"Several communities across the country including some states that passed laws either banning completely the tethering and chaining of dogs or limiting it by time," said Joan McKenna with Dogs Deserve Better.

Connie Davis lobbied successfully for an anti-chaining ordinance in St. Louis County. The law prohibits leaving a dog or cat tethered outdoors for 10 continuous hours, or for a total of 12 hours in a 24-hour period. The tether must be a properly fitting harness or collar of nylon or leather, and it must be 15 feet long, with a swivel at both ends.

"Tethering dogs is number one inhumane to the dog. Dogs are social animals. They need to be socialized. They need to have human companionship. Humans are their pack," said Davie.

Valerie Wise of Spanish Lake agrees. But she says, don't be quick to judge. She tethers her boxer named Chang. But she says she does it responsibly. Chang is tethered to her front porch for only 15 minutes, five times a day, so that he can enjoy fresh air. Mostly, Chang spends his time inside the house with his family. So even Valerie hates to see a dog that has been chained for hours.

"Some dogs will knock over their bucket of water if they're left out there all day. A dog without water will dehydrate and get really sick and possibly even die from it," said Valerie Wise.

That's one reason why Randy Grimm of Stray Rescue, got an anti-chaining law passed in the city. Midnight is one of many dogs Randy has rescued.

"Midnight comes from the county and got a plea from a lot of people for help. He was taken to the county pound. He lived his entire life on a chain, a short chain," said Grimm.

St. Louis County Animal Control says these anti-chaining laws are difficult to enforce. They don't want to fine people, or take their dogs away because shelters are already filled to capacity.

They just want dog owners to be aware that chaining a dog for long periods can make the dog aggressive. Keeping the dog in the house is a better option.

Grimm pets Midnight saying, "He's gonna be a great pet one day and he should never have to suffer living on a chain."

The Humane Society of Missouri opposes the chaining or tethering of any animal unless it's for a short period of time with access to shade and cool, fresh water.

St. Louis County, St. Louis City, Creve Coeur and O'Fallon are among a growing number of cities and counties with laws limiting chaining. There are more than 100 local governments across the country with such laws.


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