A North Carolina woman who is tired of seeing dogs living chained up is petitioning to make the practice illegal – once and for all.
Donna Hughes, the woman behind this fast-growing movement, already has more than 977,000 people behind her Change.org petition.
Hughes is working to ban dog chaining in her county, with a bigger goal of inspiring other animal lovers to do the same around the U.S.
While she was always an animal lover, she was inspired to advocate for this cause after watching her neighbor's dog live his life in chains during all kinds of inclimate weather.
"I never really noticed this dog very much and all of a sudden I go by and it's like pouring down rain and lightning," Hughes explained. "And I notice on my way to work that the dog was out there – chained. We had a really bad snowstorm, and I noticed the dog was out there chained in the snow. No matter what the weather, even if it's zero degrees, they keep him chained outside."
Hughes and her neighbors repeatedly called animal control to report the abuse, but there was nothing that could be done because dog chaining is legal in her area.
"It makes no sense to me that dog chaining is legal," Hughes said.
"If I were a dog and I were on a chain 24/7 that would be the worst thing you could do to me," Hughes said. "I would hate that. If someone burns a dog or tortures a dog, they go to jail. But putting them on a chain 24/7 – is that different? Not much."
Hughes' cause is based in North Carolina, but it's reaching a much wider audience.
Her story has been retweeted by celebrities (such as singer Wynonna Judd, singer/actress Christina Bianco and designer Lisa Vanderpump) and touched the hearts of children who have done the same.
Hughes is also a singer and wrote a song called "Dog On A 10 Foot Chain," which was inspired by her cause. She said she wrote it on a sleepless night she spent agonizing over these tortured dogs.
The song has proved especially impactful to elementary school children, who represent the next generation of doggie caretakers.
"I thought these kids were going to be so bored with me that they're going to wish they were anywhere else," Hughes said with a laugh, about a recent performance. "Each time I would sing the dog on a chain song every kid was crying."
She is currently penning a more comical – "I Kissed A Dog On The Mouth" – to lighten the mood after singing her initial song during school visits.
Hughes sings "Dog On A 10 Foot Chain" in this video below she created:
Hughes feels the children's emotions were an appropriate response to the song.
Despite laws allowing dog chaining in many parts of the country, Hughes has animal rights organizations, such as the Humane Society, on her side.
"It is an owner's responsibility to properly restrain her dog, just as it is the owner's responsibility to provide adequate attention and socialization," said the Humane Society. "Placing an animal on a restraint to get fresh air can be acceptable if it is done for a short period or while supervised. However, keeping an animal tethered for long periods is never acceptable."
Those who want to follow Hughes' lead are invited to her Change.org page where they can learn to fight dog chaining against in their states and neighborghoods.