‘PAWS 4 Chainge’
By Melanie Ruberti
Evie Kettler has become a local champion for animal rights – a title she never imagined she would ever have.
Kettler popped into the community spotlight when she proposed the current “Tethering of Dogs” ordinance that is now a law within the city limits of LaGrange.
The measure prohibits dog owners from chaining (tethering) their animal to a cable or chain and affixing that line to a single point, such as a tree or a stake in the ground.
Instead, animal owners must use a fenced in area, including a pen, or a trolley system that allows the animal to run between two fixed points and must be at least 10 feet long.
But Kettler is not satisfied with the ordinance – and believes more should be done to protect dogs.
She recently created her own non-profit organization called “PAWS 4 Chainge.”
The group raises awareness about dog tethering and builds fences for homeowners who want to keep their pet outdoors but cannot afford to construct an enclosure.
“I feel like there is a need for this in the city and county,” Kettler explained. “I couldn’t keep seeing this (tethered dogs) and not do anything about it. I want to help the dogs and their families.”
She also cited numerous national organizations whom determined tethering a dog as “inhumane.”
“… A tether significantly restricts the dog’s movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog’s shelter structure or other objects; further restricting the dog’s movement and potentially causing injury,” stated the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Kettler and a few volunteers built their first enclosure a few weeks ago.
Chris Rice, a supporter of PAWS 4 Chainge, reached out to Kettler after noticing two dogs in her neighborhood were constantly tethered outside.
“It caused me a lot of anxiety,” Rice said. “I couldn’t sleep at night … it was difficult to look at it. They (dogs) were being fed but they were not getting a lot of human contact. There was one (dog) tied up in back of the house and one in front.”
Together, Rice and Kettler spoke to the family, who welcomed their help in building enclosures for both dogs.
PAWS 4 Chainge built a 47 by 27 foot pen, complete with two gates, one for each dog, a five-foot high fence and a divider in the middle.
The two women said the dogs and their family immediately seemed happy with the new space.
“The feeling that we got was amazing,” Kettler described. “To see the little dog so happy … he literally smiled. We all started crying.”
“The other animal was a senior dog. He had been tethered for four years. We put the fence close to the house so people have to talk to the animals … so they become part of the family,” explained Rice.
The families helped by PAWS 4 Chainge must sign a disclaimer stating they will not tether their animals again. The families also promise to have their dogs spayed or neutered.
“We’re not there to judge you, we’re just there to help you,” Kettler explained.
While Kettler is proud of PAWS 4 Chainge first build, she knows more donations and volunteers are needed to continue the work. Each fence and enclosure is different, but Kettler estimates the cost around $400-$500 dollars.
The construction usually takes two weekends – one to pour the cement and put up posts; the second to place fencing around the enclosure.
Donations of tools, fencing, money and people’s time are all appreciated, Kettler said.
“I’m hoping people embrace this (PAWS 4 Chainge) and want it as much as we do,” she added. “I can’t save them all and I can’t help them all, but for every dog that I help, their lives will be so much better.”
“… There has been so much relief for me and my neighbors,” Rice said. “It’s not just the dogs we help, it’s the neighborhood and the appearance of the neighborhood … “We (PAWS 4 Chainge) are improving Troup County … trying to make the neighborhoods safer and look better.”
Kettler hopes to build the dog enclosures for families in need at least once a month.
PAWS 4 Chainge is also looking to partner with local organizations like the LaGrange – Troup County Animal Control and Humane Society.
Anyone wanting more information about “PAWS 4 Chainge” can visit their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/PAWS-4-Chainge. There is also a donation button on their page.
For folks who would like to volunteer or want help building an enclosure for dogs, message Evie Kettler through the Facebook page.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.