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Tethering Policy Statement

Even mushers who primarily house their dogs in their own homes need some sort of outdoor confinement system to house their dogs during times when the musher can not be present to supervise the dogs and of course mushers with larger teams must usually confine some or all of their sled dogs in an outdoor “dog yard”.  Whether confining members of a 2-dog skijoring team or a 100+ dog racing kennel, the general considerations and methods of confining the dogs remain the same. 

It is Mush with PRIDE’s position that tethering sled dogs in the manner recommended in the Mush with PRIDE Sled Dog Care Guidelines is a safe and humane method of confinement that allows healthy social interactions among dogs, minimizes risks of injury to dogs and facilitates husbandry, hygiene and kennel management.

Tethering in the manner described in the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Sled Dog Care Guidelines in the multiple-dog kennel setting meets the physical and psychological needs of dogs while accommodating the needs of the community.

  • Securely confines dogs to protect them from exposure to injuries or illnesses.

  • Facilitates human care and husbandry of the animals leading to increased opportunities for human interaction and socialization.

  • Allows dogs to interact freely with their kennel mates while simultaneously protecting dogs from aggressive kennel mates.

  • Provides ample space in which the dogs may engage in a full range of species-specific behaviors.

  • Provides access to the visual, auditory and olfactory stimuli of the general environment.

The studies cited by those seeking laws to prohibit tethering were not scientific studies of animal confinement.  Most were epidemiological studies of dog bites and their conclusions do not demonstrate a cause and effect relationship between tethering and dog bites.

Advocates of outlawing tethering as a method of dog confinement frequently misinterpret the results of the studies they cite.

On their website, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) states that a study published in the September 15, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that 17 percent of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were restrained on their owners' property at the time of the attack.  If that is true, then it is also true that 83% of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans  were NOT restrained on their owner’s property at the time of the attack.  In other words, this very same study indicates that tethered dogs are almost 5 times less likely to kill a human that dogs that are not restrained.

The best available current scientific evidence supports tethering in the manner described in the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Sled Dog Care Guidelines as an effective, safe and humane method of confinement.

The only controlled, scientific study comparing sled dogs primarily confined by tethering on post/swivel systems as described in the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Sled Dog Care Guidelines to another confinement system found no significant difference in the behavior of tethered dogs to those confined using other systems.  (Reference Houpt K, Reynolds A, Erb H, Sung W, Golden G, Yeon W; “A Comparison of Tethering and Pen Confinement of Dogs.” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, vol 4, no 4, 2001: 257-270.)

Depending upon the length of chain, tethering with the post and swivel system recommended by Mush with P.R.I.D.E. provides each dog with more space to run, play, jump and engage in other species-typical behaviors than required under most animal welfare regulations, even those applicable to dogs in federally regulated industries or even modern research settings.

  • 5 foot chains gives each dog an area of slightly more than 78 square feet in which to exercise. 

  • With 6 foot chains the dogs’ play area is increased to about 113 square feet

  • 7 foot chains allow each dog a personal playground of nearly 155 square feet.

  • (Reference (Hubrecht R; “Comfortable Quarters for Laboratory Dogs”; Universites Federation for Animal Welfare, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.)

The manner of tethering sled dogs recommended by Mush with PRIDE is available on-line at http://www.mushwithpride.org/Guidelines/Dog_Yard.htm

 

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