Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chain Free Bristol Needs Your Help!

A couple of years ago, a Bristol woman named Liza Conway started an organization called Chain Free Bristol.  Liza's my friend's sister, and my son's friend's aunt, so I've known her for years, and I always liked her, but when she got going on this I thought she was just a tiny bit off her rocker.

Liza's a realtor, so she sees a lot of Bristol's housing close up, and she was bothered by the number of dogs she encountered who were spending their entire lives living outdoors, on a chain.  We're in a relatively cool part of the south; we get freezing rain and snow in the winter.  Liza saw suffering dogs, and couldn't stand it, so she decided to do something about it.  She started raising money to purchase chain-link fence, and then she recruited friends, went up to homeowners, and offered to build a fence around their yard for free so their dogs could be off tether.

That's not what made me think she was off her rocker.  What I questioned was the scale of the problem.  No one likes to see any dog suffer, but I thought, how many dogs in Bristol actually spend their whole lives on a chain?  After all, in my childhood we had a brief period of time where we lived without a yard fence.  We had our dogs out on chains then--in the daytime, under shelter of some trees.  They came in at night.  They weren't suffering. Also, how many of the owners of those dogs were going to accept free fences?  If you know anything about Appalachia, you know folks here are mighty set in their ways.  I could just imagine how the good ol' boys would respond when Liza rang their doorbell and said they were abusing their dogs.

Well.  I was wrong.  I reckoned without Liza's personal knowledge and indomitable energy.  Liza set about building fences, one at a time, raising money by collecting recycling, setting up a website and a formal charitable organization, drumming up workers and donations.  In two years Chain Free Bristol has built fences for over 50 local dogs who otherwise would have spent their entire lives tethered outdoors.

The whole time, Liza's also been asking the city councils (we live in a border town, so we have two) to ban the lifetime, unattended chaining of dogs.  Today Bristol Tennessee has offered to listen.  Liza's giving a power point presentation to the council during their work session tonight. 

This is what she needs now:  people.  Community support in its most visible form.  If you want to help, please come to the work session, tonight, at 7 pm.  It's in the Municipal Annex Building on the corner of 8th Street and Shelby, and the entrance is on Shelby Street.  You won't have to speak or do anything but attend. 

Liza thanks you.  I thank you.  And so do the dogs.