Bumpus Harley-Davidson on Whitten Road may be known for its motorcycles, but last weekend, it was all about dogs, not hogs.
As part of the fifth annual Dogs Deserve Better Chain Off, a small group of people spent Sunday chained to telephone poles and doghouses in front of the dealership. The event, which is held around July 4th each year nationwide, strives to bring attention to what organizers call the inhumane and unethical practice of chaining dogs.
"We're trying to bring attention to a national problem," said Ona Cooper, a representative of Animal World, a free monthly publication. "We want people to start thinking about this."
The state recently passed an anti-chaining law, which went into effect July 1st. The law states that any person who knowingly ties, tethers, or restrains a dog in a manner that is inhumane, detrimental, or injurious to the dog's welfare and prevents a dog from getting adequate access to food, water, or shelter commits an offense.
The Memphis City Council will also consider a citywide version of the state law July 10th. If approved, that ordinance will take effect September 4th.
At the protest, one woman tied herself to a telephone pole with a heavy chain used to tow cars. After linking the end of a towing hook to the chain to create a dangerous loop, she attached the chain to a collar around her neck and explained that she'd once found a dog tethered that way.
Overturned food and water bowls surrounded a doghouse and the chained humans. Cooper said this was to re-create situations in which dogs have been found.
Dogs Deserve Better says that chaining is detrimental to the welfare of dogs because they are pack animals. In the absence of other canines, humans become the dog's pack, but a chained dog is essentially "rejected" from its pack. It then becomes very territorial, and according to Dogs Deserve Better, a chained dog is more than twice as likely to bite someone.
"People are tired of [chaining]," said Cooper. "What we're doing will bring awareness now and legislation later. It's time for things to change."