People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter Tuesday to Keene Mayor Roy Robinson and the Keene City Council urging them to ban, or at least restrict, the chaining of dogs within Keene.

“Although Texas law restricts chaining, we are writing today ... to urge you to completely ban the cruel and dangerous practice of chaining dogs,” wrote Candace Hertzel, PETA spokeswoman.

PETA sent the letter in response to 6-year-old Billie Jean Cain, attacked by a pit bull who broke free of his chain Nov. 6.

PETA learned of the incident through newspaper reports on the Internet, Hertzel said.

Dogs are highly social pack animals, and chaining is dangerous because it deprives them of the social interaction they need and can make them dangerous, according to a PETA press release sent with the letter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that chained dogs are three times more likely to attack than dogs not chained, according to the release.

The practice is also cruel to dogs, according to the release, because they remain trapped in all kinds of weather and spend their time eating, sleeping and eliminating within the same area.

Chained dogs are defenseless, making them easy targets for thieves, dog fighters, cruel teenagers and neighbors annoyed by their barking, according to the release.

“Man’s best friend deserves better than being chained up like an old bicycle,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA vice president. “Keene officials would do a good deed for their constituents — and for the dogs — by banning this cruel, dangerous practice.”

Fort Worth, Dallas, Irving and at least 120 other jurisdictions across the country have banned or restricted the practice, Hertzel said.

Cleburne allows chaining with restrictions, said Jerry Dean, Cleburne Animal Control supervisor. Those restrictions address minimum chain lengths, the amount of time a dog can be chained and other factors, he said.

Cain’s attack was not an isolated incident, Hartzel said. Over the last year more than 50 people have been attacked, some killed, by chained dogs throughout America, she said.

Keene Councilman James Coleman said Wednesday he had not seen PETA’s letter yet.

“I’ve thought about it though and know other cities have done it,” Coleman said. “It’s definitely something the council needs to look at.”

Robinson could not be reached for comment.

Rhonda Turner, Cain’s grandmother, said she supports the proposed ban.

“I think dogs should be penned where they can roam around some at least,” Turner said. “I don’t like the chaining of any dog, never have.”

Cain and her step-brother, C.J. Gutzman, 10, were playing near their home when a pit bull broke free of its chain, grabbed Cain and ripped a 13-inch diameter section of her skull off. Gutzman threw a piece of pipe at the dog, which caused it to let go of Cain and run off. Cain also suffered puncture wounds to her hands and feet where the dog bit through as well as injuries to her back and hip.

Keene firefighters transported Cain to Cook Children’s Medical Center where she underwent treatment including skin-graft surgery for injuries to her head, Turner said.

Family members feared she would have to remain hospitalized through Thanksgiving, but she was released the Sunday before the holiday, Turner said.

“She’s very spunky,” Turner said. “She still likes small dogs, but she’s real adamant that she doesn’t want anything else to do with big dogs.”

Cain’s skin graft operation took, Turner said, but she faces more skin and hair graft surgeries next year.

“They had to shave her head for the surgery,” Turner said. “And she has her head wrapped in bandages, which have to be changed every morning and night.”

Cain, a kindergarten student, has not been able to return to school and will be home schooled this year, Turner said.

Like the rest of the family, Cain is thankful Gutzman was present when the attack occurred.

“She says if it weren’t for Bubby [Cain’s name for her brother] that she wouldn’t be here now and says that Bubby, ‘pulled that dog off me,’” Turner said.

Turner said Wednesday that she knows the dog who attacked Cain had been picked up after the attack but does not know what happened to it.



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