A couple of weekends ago my husband and I volunteered with People United for Pets (PUP) here in Raleigh, NC, to build a fence for two dogs, Buddy and Strut, who had lived most of their lives on chains. Raleigh’s city council recently passed a no-tethering law that goes into effect July 1st, 2009. After the law goes into effect, owners of tethered dogs will be forced to either provide proper containment for their dogs or face a $100/day fine for tethering beyond the legal time limit. As many who tether their dogs can’t afford these options, many dogs like Buddy and Strut will face the grim possibility of being surrendered to our kill shelter instead.
PUP provides free fences to owners in need of assistance. Dog owners must only agree to have their dogs spayed or neutered, a service also paid for by PUP.
Buddy (a young pit bull mix) wasn’t too happy to see a bunch of strangers show up in his yard on a Saturday morning, but Strut, a senior retriever/shepherd mix, didn’t seem too bothered by our presence, and was more than happy to dole out slobbery greetings to anyone who came close enough — a rather daunting notion with Buddy barking and lunging nearby.
The fence we built had to have a separation in the middle so that Buddy and Strut wouldn’t argue over food. In addition, Buddy is a digger, so his side of the fence had to be reinforced at the bottom to prevent escape or injury.
Since a good deal of the build involved manly physical labor of which I wasn’t capable, I spent some time trying to get to know Buddy instead. Buddy’s owner told me that he had found Buddy as a small pup in a trash can. I felt sure that Buddy’s aggressive demeanor resulted from fear, so I approached him as slowly and as non-challengingly as I could. A fellow volunteer and I began doling out dog biscuits as fast as Buddy could eat them, and soon he was wagging his tail and gleefully accepting neck scritches. A few more months on the chain might have snuffed out any of the trust and love he had left.
The best part of the whole gig? Instant gratification. Once we had the fence mostly constructed, Buddy and Strut’s owner led them one at a time into the new fence so the dogs could check out their new digs. Were they happy with our work? Well, you tell me.
To find out more about PUP NC, including volunteer and donation opportunities, visit the PUP NC web site.
For more photos of the fence build, check out phetched’s flickr.