By Caleb Woodbury
Imagine spending all winter outside, standing and sleeping on the freezing ground with nowhere to go to get warm.
It’s almost impossible to imagine but this is the fate of dogs whose owners force them to live outside. If dogs remain outside all year round, they can develop things like aggressive behavior, endless barking, parasites, and diseases.
In order to ensure dogs are not left outside all year-round, communities across the state of Michigan need to commit more resources to enforcing the laws against leaving dogs outside all year-round without proper protection from weather, a source of warmth, and food/water.
Unfortunately, it’s a common belief dogs are more resistant to cold weather than humans because of their fur, but it’s just not true. They still need an insulated shelter in order to stay warm.
If dogs do not have the freedom to seek shelter from the cold, and instead are confined or chained up with no shelter provided for them, then they are completely helpless and extremely vulnerable to the cold weather and wintery conditions, like frostbite.
To put it plainly, dogs are being forced to live outside all year round with very little support from their owners. Dogs have rights too and should not be left to suffer.
Every winter when I’m driving through Michigan, I see numerous dogs chained up outside and left there.
Dogs are known as pack animals, and they’re not suited to living alone.
When owners make their dogs live outside, they become very lonely and it can literally change their personality. The dog can become highly aggressive if left outside, it might bark endlessly, and might even try to attack its owner or another approaching person, like a neighbor.
Although some could argue dogs in the wild, like coyotes, are able to live outside in packs and can withstand cold winter temperatures, what they fail to recognize is humans have changed the way dogs live.
We have domesticated them and brought them into our lives so now dogs rely on humans to be their “pack,” and take care of them.
If a dog is forced to stay outside alone, then the dog will suffer from the negative effects of isolation.
It is not fair to compare wild dogs to domestic dogs because the wild dogs have the benefit of living in a pack and maintaining their wild instincts.
As humans, we have to put an end to this problem immediately.
The most effective way to solve this issue is for Michigan communities to commit more resources to enforcing the laws to require dog owners to provide shelter, food, and water for their outdoor pets.
Communities should use extra resources to send out more animal control officers, along with Michigan Humane Society groups, to make house visits where dogs are being left outside.
They should inform the owner on how to better take care of his or her dog.
Furthermore, they could talk with the owner about setting up a dog house for the dog, they could suggest putting straw inside the dog house for warmth, and they could help the owner with supplying the dog with food/water.
These groups of people could check in with the owner at a later date to see how the dog is doing. If the dog is not doing well, then the officers should have the right to remove the dog.
Maybe a more informed and educated dog owner, who knows someone is watching out for their dog, will become a better and more responsible pet owner, leading to a happier life for their dog, and ultimately, a life lived inside with the “pack.”
Sashabaw Middle School seventh grade students in Allie Dennis’ English Language Arts class are writing proposals in the form of newspaper op-ed articles.