On Outdoor Tethering…

The dog was stolen.

Over the holiday break, there were quite a few interesting animal related news stories in our area. But none quite caught my attention as much as this one did. The long and the short of it is: a family was out buying groceries to cook their Christmas meal. They brought their Cavalier King Charles spaniel out with them for the errand, and upon arriving at the grocery store, tethered the dog outside the store while they finished their shopping, leaving the dog entirely unsupervised.

Of course, my immediate response was to feel pity for the family. I would be devastated if I ever lost Lucy. But after thinking more about this whole situation, I kept getting more and more irritated. Wouldn’t the dog never have been stolen if they had simply left it at home while running their errands? Would their “7 yr old little girl” avoided heartbreak if Mom or Dad had just waited outside with the dog? Most likely.


Tethering dogs outside stores and coffee shops is rampant in New York City. We, as New Yorkers, try to multitask as much as we can. Many of us lead very busy lives, and have a lot to accomplish on any given day. If we can do two or more of those things at once, we’ll all almost take that opportunity. But is efficiency worth risking the safety and welfare of one of your beloved family members? Or, worse yet, risking the safety and welfare of the other people and animals in your community?

By tethering a dog unattended outside, not only are you putting that dog in harm’s way, as we’ve seen from this story, but that dog could become so stressed out and upset by seemingly being abandoned, that it could uncharacteristically lash out at passers-by.

The Cavalier was eventually returned, after what we’re sure was a very harrowing journey for the small pup. We hope that this family learned a valuable holiday lesson this year, and wont make the same mistake twice. For their sake and their dog’s sake. But we wish that New Yorkers would take the morale of this fable very much to heart.