When one animal lover stopped by an address to do what they could for a dog in distress in 2017, she expected that the altruistic act would be fairly straightforward. The canine-friendly female had spotted the doggo tangled up by a tethered rope in the backyard of the property. But, astonishingly, when the good Samaritan approached the animal’s owners, they had some bad news – they did not even want the dog.
Flannel, the pooch in question from an unspecified part of the U.S., was one of North America’s many “backyard dogs.” By definition, these animals live outside for the most part and are often literally tied to one location by a chain, rope or leash. In many states, keeping a dog outside is perfectly legal. Nevertheless, there are laws in place to protect such yard animals.
However, regardless of legislation, all outdoor dogs should have access to some form of shelter, regular food and water. Owners should also provide their animals with veterinary care if required. Nonetheless, law enforcement agencies tend not to remove dogs from owners unless the canine’s lives are truly in danger.
The campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – or PETA – based in Norfolk, Virginia, first became aware of Flannel via one of its fieldworkers. The woman concerned was motoring along when she spotted the dog tied up in a backyard. As one of PETA’s people on the ground, she was well versed in interceding on an animal’s behalf. The operative had also taken part in many rescues, saving countless creatures from abuse and neglect.
In a video later uploaded to PETA’s YouTube channel, a woman named Wendy described the moment that the fieldworker first set eyes on Flannel. Wendy revealed, “They were driving by and saw that [Flannel] was tangled. So, they stopped to talk to the owners about getting him untangled.”
However, when the fieldworker got out of her car and approached Flannel’s owners, they made a jaw-dropping admission. They told the PETA member that they no longer had any interest in keeping the animal. Consequently, the fieldworker decided to take the dog right there and then.
Reportedly, it did not take long for Flannel to find a family. Indeed, he was soon rehoused when Wendy from the PETA video adopted him. However, after apparently being left out in the cold for so long, she found that her new pet was having to adapt to inside living. And one of the hardest things Flannel had to get used to was the acceptance of love from a human being.
Indeed, speaking on PETA’s YouTube video, Wendy recalled, “When Flannel first came to us he was very timid. You know, he was worried about meeting new people. He was very shy.” The new owner added, “He did not know how to behave inside.”
Nevertheless, with a loving family by his side, Flannel soon adjusted to his new lifestyle. Footage taken at his forever home shows him playing with a ball, perhaps for the first time ever. In another clip, he can be seen doling out sloppy kisses onto Wendy’s face.
The dog’s transformation was welcomed by his adoptive mom. “Flannel has gained so much confidence since he’s been with us,” Wendy gushed on the video. “He has a few things that still make him nervous, but he’s really gained a lot of confidence in just learning how to be a dog.”
In fact, Wendy was so proud of Flannel’s progress that she decided to share his story with PETA. Engaging the help of the animal rights group would ensure that more people could see how much Flannel had changed from the day of his rescue. Hopefully, the transformational tale would also change viewers’ perceptions of backyard dogs.
Subsequently, in the months after Flannel’s story went live on YouTube in May 2017, more than 142,000 people watched the video. And many of these viewers were clearly impressed with what they had seen of Flannel. So much so, that some of them left PETA positive comments below the footage.
One evident animal lover wrote, “Rescues fill my heart with joy. A forever safe home and freedom from neglect and loneliness. Awesome PETA. Yet again, you are heroes.” Meanwhile, another commenter added for good measure, “God bless you for reaching him. So wonderful.”
Nevertheless, Flannel’s story resonated with some YouTube viewers more than others. In particular, some concerned people with backyard dogs living in their neighborhoods wanted to know how best to help the animals. And thankfully, PETA had some answers.
On its website, the animal rights organization has outlined the best way for potential rescuers to assist a chained-up dog. And, according to this guide, unless a canine’s life or wellbeing is in immediate danger, the easiest approach is actually to befriend the mutt’s owner.
PETA suggests that if an individual is worried about a backyard dog, they should politely approach the animal’s guardian. According to the charity, the best way to do this is by adopting a non-confrontational manner. The advice is to talk generally about keeping dogs as pets first, perhaps by revealing knowledge that can be gleaned by reading up on the animals.
For instance, concerned strangers could point out the fact that dogs actually crave their owners’ attention. The pack animal’s sole purpose in life is to please their masters and fit into the family hierarchy. As a result, canines tend to be happier when they are indoors among the family group.
Alternatively, animal lovers could highlight some of the more basic needs of backyard dogs. For example, owners should provide their pets with a sturdy wooden shelter that is raised off the ground and includes a door. The structure should be big enough for the canine to turn around, but small enough for them to warm it up with their body heat.
But PETA says that these good Samaritans should not just work with neglectful guardians to improve the welfare of backyard dogs. The campaign group also stresses the importance of a relationship with the actual animal, providing the appropriate permissions are granted. For example, PETA recommends offering to take the neglected dog for a walk, and encourages the gifting of stimulating toys.
Nevertheless, the charity underlines the importance of treading carefully when attempting to help someone else’s dog. Animal lovers should avoid being judgmental in such instances and genuinely offer their assistance instead. If the dog owner is willing to accept this help, then the poor pooch could benefit from a better future – just like Flannel.