When I drive past farms, ranches and even through subdivisions in southern Utah, I sometimes see dogs confined in outdoor kennels or chained to posts, forced to spend their days alone under the beating sun. These creatures endure their nights in isolation, and when the winter comes, they get through the cold and the occasional snow on their own too.
Dogs forced to live this way aren’t pets; they’re prisoners — locked down, guilty of nothing, dearly punished. As animal behavior specialist Temple Grandin explains: “For people, solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments you can put them through, and it’s no different for animals. Animals need friends and companions, and humans need to make sure they have them.”
Unfortunately, confining dogs in kennels and tethering them for long periods of time are legally protected. If an owner provides a dog with water, food and shelter, and otherwise ignores the animal, no offense has been perpetrated. I know this, sadly, having reached out for help without success from law enforcement, animal control and animal welfare organizations.
I have been wondering what role those of us in the Dixie State University community who care about animals can do to change laws that sanction cruelty of this sort. A letter campaign to local officials might help. Another idea might be the formation of a club on campus that strives to bring attention to the suffering of animals — not just imprisoned dogs — with an eye to improving their conditions.
Currently DSU has clubs for rodeo and bass fishing — not the friendliest activities for animals. Why not start a club that helps them, too?
Associate professor of English