On May 23 2009, a small group arrived at the NE Portland home of Chopper, a big hunk of a dog who spent day after day, year after year, isolated from his family, chained to a tree. Chopper spent so many years tied to that one section of yard that he wore down the confines of his small world to bare ground.
Fortunately, within just a few hours on that sunny, May day, Chopper experienced freedom for the first time in six years. Once a sad, sullen dog, Chopper bounded around his new yard, smiling and wagging his tail…truly joyful. Following the build, his person Keith wrote to Fences For Fido saying, “I realize now he is so much happier being off the chain. Never again on a chain!” The fence encouraged Keith to spend more time with Chopper, changing their relationship forever. (Watch Chopper's Video)
The work of Fences For Fido is deeply rooted in making that kind of change between a dog and his family, but our work does not end there. We create safer and improved conditions for chained dogs by providing shelter, veterinary care, and spay and neutering services when necessary. We work to educate families on how to best care for their four-legged family members during the heat of the summer and the cold, wet winter months. Twice a year our team of tireless volunteers visits all of the dogs in the FFF family to make sure they remain unchained, safe and healthy.
With more than 800 dogs already unchained since May 2009, the mission of Fences For Fido continues. With generous help from our volunteers and donors, FFF hopes to share many more success stories.
Chained to Free
Rocky existed alone, staked to bare earth on a hillside in rural Oregon, far from the family home. His spirit broken, roaming neighborhood dogs would regularly come to Rocky’s muddy patch of land and steal his food, leaving him hungry. Unable to defend himself due to the chain, Rocky survived year after year in desperate isolation.
Dogs who are chained for unending periods of time will react in one of two ways. They will become listless and depressed, or violently aggressive. As pack animals, dogs thrive with socialization and companionship. Living a life alone and chained can change a dog’s natural gentle temperament into a threatening one. The Centers for Disease Control states that chained dogs are 2.8 times more likely to bite than unchained dogs. A chained dog who gets loose can pose a real threat to a neighborhood. Fences For Fido not only allows a dog to be a dog, but also helps to keep communities safe.
Today, Rocky roams in a big, fenced yard and has the company of Skylar, another dog previously chained on the property. No longer isolated or threatened by other dogs, Rocky now enjoys companionship and freedom instead of merely existing alone.
Alone to Loved
Many families we work with do love their dogs. In some cases, they simply don’t know a better way than the chain. In other situations, people do not have the resources to build a fence for their dog. When it comes down to it, most of our clients truly want a better life for their dog and are grateful for the help Fences For Fido provides. But a few of our stories have a different ending. Sometimes, a family has decided that relinquishing their dog is ultimately the right thing to do. Our foster program offers dogs once lonely and unloved the chance to know the warmth and bond of a family.
Willie lived for seven years on a six-foot chain in a dark, filthy backyard in North Portland with little interaction from his humans. Shortly after building a fence for Willie, the family surrendered him, giving Fences For Fido the opportunity to change one dog’s life forever. Today, Willie is surrounded by companionship, comfort and love. He spends his days in doggie day care or tucked at the feet of his new, loving guardian by her desk at work. No longer chained, no longer alone, no longer unloved. The dedication of Fences for Fido’s foster parents and outreach workers give deserving dogs’ new life. Willie’s forever family says, “We love him so much! He will always have the best we can give. Thank you FFF for bringing us together.”
Cold to Warm
Imagine spending an entire day outside, in 20-degree weather with wind and sleet coming at you from every direction. You have no coat, no hat, no boots, no gloves…and no way to escape the downpour. Now imagine spending weeks in those conditions, forever cold, without a roof over your head or a dry place to stand. Unfortunately, Fences For Fido comes across too many dogs that live in frighteningly miserable conditions during our bracing Pacific Northwest winters.
Thankfully, through the contributions of our donors and the efforts of our volunteers, every dog who needs one receives a well-built dog shelter with a shingled roof and a comfortable dog bed. These wooden shelters are raised a few inches above the ground so they stay warm and dry throughout our cold, wet months. Our volunteers work hard to provide dogs with shelters as quickly as possible, sometimes weeks ahead of their build date in an effort to provide comfort and relief. This simple act makes a profound contribution to the health and well-being of dogs on our waiting list.
One Fence. One Family. One Dog at a Time
These are just three stories among the more than 190 dogs we’ve met in the past two years. Fences For Fido recently received letters of thanks from one family who can now play with their dogs free of the chain and without worry that they will be hurt by escaping the yard. A concerned neighbor also sent a note of thanks that the lonely dog she saw chained on her daily walks is no longer confined.
Today, fences are built from SW Washington’s Clark and Cowlitz counties all the way to Oregon’s Marion and Linn counties with several points in between. From Scappoose to Estacada, Sweet Home to Newburg, Vancouver to Longview, volunteers answer the call to help build six to eight fences a month. Thanks to these volunteers and to the generous donations from our community FFF continues to provide our dogs, some of whom have never known freedom, a chance to run, play and receive love from their family. Thank you for being a part of our effort to change lives… one fence, one family, one dog at a time.