For the past year and a half, Gerald Hohfeld has been a volunteer with the “Chain Off” program, which helps families get their dogs off chains by installing fences for free.
“When we first went out there to look at the site, I was pretty sure if Blue could stretch that chain and pop it, he would have ate us alive, and we’ve got pictures of him laying on his back after the fence has been built with us rubbing his tummy,” Hohfeld said.
The program was created a couple of years ago, when the city council passed an ordinance, restricting use of chains.
“The city wanted to help with the number of dogs that were on chains in this city and they wanted to put an ordinance in effect. My understanding was they just didn’t want to give people no options so Leslie here at P.E.T.S says: ‘We’ll be your option,'” Hohfeld said.
The ordinance got a makeover this summer, because the city wanted to make the language clearer, such as the section that says if a dog is chained in a yard, the owner has to be in plain sight of the animal.
What kind of chains may be used was also made more specific, for example, the chain can not weigh more than 10 percent of the animal’s body weight.
“We had some issues with dogs coming in that had chains on that were sometimes two and three times their body weight,” Lou Kreidler, Public Health District Director, said.
The updated ordinance also made it more specific that choke chains and spike collars are not allowed for chained dogs.
“You know it’s really been a great ordinance and the ‘Chain Off’ program, which is run by the pets program has been really great,” Kreidler said.
However, Hohfeld said not as many people have been applying to get a fence.
“I know there are hundreds of dogs out there on chains right now and people don’t know we’re there and they go: ‘Well, I can’t afford to get them off of the chain.’ Well, that’s what we’re here for,” Hohfeld said.
Hohfeld said there is no doubt more dogs need a safe place to play, they just need help on getting the word out.
The “Chain Off” program builds the fence for no cost to the owner, but for them it costs an average of $500.
If you think you could qualify for a free fence, you can fill out an application at the P.E.T.S. clinic location: 500 Wichita Street, Wichita Falls, TX 76306.
If you want to help with the “Chain Off” initiative call, (940) 723-7387.