Chainging Lives: One Paw At A Time

“Would you go out and get a cow if you didn’t have a pasture?” “Would you buy a fish if you didn’t have a fish tank?” – “Same thing with a dog.”

“Surely you wouldn’t get a cow and chain it to a tree, so why would you do that to a dog?”

Evie Kettler has found her God-given task to reach Troup County’s canines. After fighting (and winning) for dog chaining to be banned in LaGrange and Hogansville, she is on a new mission to pass an ordinance to ban the trolley system, too.

“I was that person who drove by the chained dog… I was so busy raising kids that I didn’t know what was happening in the real world. And now that I know, I can’t stop trying to fix it,” explained Evie.

Evie was never bothered by dogs being chained to trees and connected to trolleys (also known as “being tethered”) until she passed by a house one day that had two dogs chained to a tree, with one of the dogs being identical to her dog, Mollie.

“[I] wouldn’t have paid attention if it were any other dog,” said Evie.

But a pointed ear here and some brown and white fur there were all it took for Evie to stop and think about the way these dogs must feel to be chained up nonstop.

“It started to bug me because the dog was there all the time, through very season. Never did I ever see the dog not tied up,” said Evie.

After passing that same house again, with the same dog chained to a tree one very cold night, Evie decided that something had to be done. That same night, she came home and began to ask herself: “How do you fix that? How do you change that?”

Evie first looked for answers to her questions by contacting Animal Control. To her disappointment, she quickly found out that chaining dogs to trees and connecting them to trolleys were 100% allowed. Evie explained her conversation with animal control: “[They said] if I tried to change things it was infringing on people’s rights.”

Before Evie hung up the phone, she told Animal Control, “You’re not going to like what I’m going to do then.”

Evie understood that “It wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight.” She knew that passing an ordinance to banned chaining and trolleys would be a long, hard process.

However, she took her next big step by contacting LaGrange City Council. After going before the Council and presenting her well-researched case, a chaining banned was passed throughout the city. Now, only trolleys are permitted for canines.

Evie was able to pass the same banned in Hogansville, and she is continuing to strive towards having trolleys banned in LaGrange and Hogansville as well.

Following city ordinances, Evie is also working with the Troup County Board of Commissioners. “I have already been in front of the Commissioners. And we’re still trying to figure out what they’re going to do,” she explained.

To spread tethering awareness, Evie decided to create a Facebook page for Troup County: Paws 4 Chainge (P4C). Through this page, she started an online petition that has reached 6,000 plus supporters. She has also started a print petition that includes 500 plus signatures.

Paws 4 Chainge is also the name of Evie’s new non-profit organization. Once the Secretary of State finalizes the process, P4C can begin raising funds, bringing in volunteers, and changing the lives of dogs by providing dog owners with free fencing.

When you get a dog you should be prepared – you need a fence,” she explained.

Evie knows that if a dog cannot be chained to a tree or connected to a trolley, then a fence must be built. However, as a single Mom who raised two children, she understands the financial burden of building a fence. This is why she believes P4C’s top priority should be to provide people with fencing for their dogs.

Once the organization is officially underway and begins taking in volunteers and receiving donations, Evie would also like to provide free dog houses (with shavings and all) as well as free spaying and neutering services to counteract the overwhelming canine population.

“People want this as much as I do,” said Evie. But, “There are two sides. I found that the other side is just excuses for people to chain their dogs.”

Evie anticipated opposition. She explained that many people believe that banning tethering will be a way for dogs to run loose and crowd local pounds. So, to counteract this claim, Evie spoke with other surrounding communities that have banned tethering to see what kind of impact the ordinance had.

West Point’s Animal Control Supervisor explained that once they banned tethering, the community reaped positive benefits.

Along with Evie, Sheriff James Woodruff explained the scientifically-proven, negative effects of tethering: when dogs are chained to trees or attached to trolleys, left alone in back yards without any form of human interaction, they naturally become aggressive.

This puts elderly people and children at risk if these dogs get loose.

“The issue begins with the chain,” explained Evie. “[You] are creating a loaded gun.”

While still working towards banning tethering of all sorts, including the trolley system, Evie has been able to pass an ordinance in LaGrange and Hogansville that includes strict enclosure rules for dogs. If the dog is 20 pounds or under, it must be placed in a space no smaller than 100 square feet. If the dog is over 20 pounds, it must be placed in a space no smaller than 200 square feet.

Though Evie has made much progress, she still has a long way to go. “I know people don’t want to see dogs chained up because they’ve told me all the time. They know what I’m doing… They think I can fix it, but I can’t without their help,” she said.

Once P4C is officially underway, Evie asks dog owners to fill out an application for a dog fence. She also asks that dog owners allow her P4C volunteer crew to check on the fences after installment and ensure that the dogs are no longer placed on chains or trolleys.

To better understand Evie’s future plans for P4C, check out Fences for Fido, another non-profit organization that provides dog owners with fences.

Looking back through her progress, from start to finish, Evie said, “Who would’ve thought two chained dogs would’ve changed my life forever?”

Evie went on to say: “I ask myself all the time, ‘Why am I doing this?’.”

One night, while driving home, she prayed: “God, what did You do to get my attention? What did You do so this is in me and won’t come out?”

Her answer from God came quick: “I put Mollie in front of You.”

“I honestly believe that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, this is what [God] gave me to do, and I don’t know that I would have done it had I not seen what seemed to be Mollie,” explained Evie.

“I look at it as doing something better for La-Grange, for the animals,” said Evie.

If you or a loved one would like to join Evie’s movement, sign her petition, or find other ways to get involved, get plugged in with Paws 4 Chainge on Facebook.

Peyton Hanners Staff Writer