In Westfield, Massachusetts, area residents have been very concerned about a tethered dog left out in the freezing temperatures. The long-haired Belgian shepherd, reported to be eight-and-a-half-years old and weighing 70 pounds, according to one neighbor who stated all the dog had was a bucket of water, had been heard whimpering and crying. Revised tethering laws limit the time dogs can be chained to five hours, but authorities cited there are exceptions to the legislation which became effective as of November 2016.
Stephen Burrell’s Facebook page has garnered over 1,300 shares after a photo was posted of the tethered dog with the following description:
“This beautiful German Shepherd is quite literally left chained OUTSIDE in this 10, 15°F freezing weather 24 hours a day. This morning wm he was uncontrollable shivering and the owners of 105/107 Miller Street, Westfield, MA would not answer their door no matter how hard I knock. Rather they just peek behind the curtain look at me and then quickly close the curtain again. They would not answer me when I called out to them to open the door. I’ve reported it to the MSPCA here at Westfield. They simply told me we’ll swing by and take a look.”
Burrell walks his own dog along side of a public path and has continued to watch the dog at all hours of the day and night while the dog is left outside on a concrete pad in front of a shed. Another resident went to check the situation out for herself, and although she did admit she had trespassed on private property to get to the dog, she stayed with the dog for hours describing the thick chain irritating the dog’s neck.
When Westfield Police Captain Michael McCabe was notified, he stated an ambiguity in the tethering law could be interpreted as doing “what’s reasonable.” In this case, McCabe said the dog appeared to be healthy and its breed is used to freezing weather. McCabe said the dog’s owner has been out of town, and animal control has addressed the situation. As of Friday evening, the dog had been removed from his chain and taken inside with police saying the dog had been “living better than most people.”
On Saturday morning, the Westfield Regional Animal Shelter posted the following update on their Facebook page:
The dog has been relocated! ******MILLER STREET UPDATE*******. We have received dozens of calls & e-mails about the dog living outdoors on Miller St. Westfield Police Dept. and Animal Control have been out there to check on the well being of the dog. We understand your frustrations on this situation and are working with the owner to resolve it. For those of you that would like to read about the new laws, on chaining and tethering, please go to: malegislature.gov Chapter 140 Section 174E.”
According to updates on social media, the owner is a truck driver and is scheduled to return home on Wednesday. The owner has been cited for a lack of vaccinations and licensing, although that information has not yet been verified. Meanwhile the dog is reportedly locked up in the shed and advocates still worry the dog will not be able to maintain a healthy body temperature. Updates will follow.
Be the voice for those who cannot speak.
(Photos screenshot of freezing dog via Western Mass News and Stephen C. Burrell)