All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dogs tied up in back yard!

Q. Our neighbors have two German shepherds that are tied up in the back yard most of the day and night. They have long leashes, plenty of shade, a large doghouse, food and water, but they get little to no attention. This breaks my heart because I am a dog lover and my dogs stay inside with me unless they need to go out to go potty. I tried to talk to these people but they assume I'm coming over to complain about their dogs' barking - and they do bark pretty much nonstop - but that's not the issue. Long story short, the people have no interest in hearing anything I have to say. Can anything be done about this?
A. Sadly, many people get dogs for the wrong reasons. I suspect the people who live in the home behind you wanted guard dogs. They probably had no interest in making these lovely creatures companion animals, which is especially unfortunate given that German shepherds are extremely social and needy creatures who are emotionally crippled by being isolated in this manner.
It is frustrating, I know, when you try to explain your point of view in a reasonable manner and are met with a "mind your own business" attitude. Some people are too set in their ways to accept any kind of advice or feel that a conversation, like the one you probably had, is a personal attack. Once someone is on the defensive, it is very difficult to find the reset button to start fresh.But there are no humane laws on the books that take into consideration the emotional well-being of animals. There is, however, an anti-staking law in California that bans the practice of keeping a dog tied up all day. If there is other physical abuse or neglect, this can be reported as well. Sadly though, people can and do treat animals as your neighbors do, and are generally not subject to any type of consequence. In this regard, our humane laws show obvious insufficiencies.
Though you made it clear that the barking is not an issue for you, this may be one more way to address the situation. If you file a complaint with your local animal control, the owners will receive information that will help them control the barking. No doubt, part of that information will include bringing the dogs indoors.
In the best-case scenario, these dog owners will take the complaint to heart and follow the official advice to avoid legal consequences relating to their dogs' barking. But, quite honestly, I doubt they would bring the dogs in the house. Instead, they will probably want to get rid of the dogs.
This is where you can come in. You can offer to find a home for the dogs. Believe it or not, a lot of dog owners who receive noise complaints will jump at the chance of having someone take the dogs off their hands rather than deal with doing anything themselves. It will require that you do a lot of phone calling and leg-work to place the dogs in a suitable environment elsewhere. But chances are, as a dog lover, you know lots of like-minded individuals who can help you out with this.
I would strongly advise that you find an adopter who is familiar with the breed and understands the needs of German Shepherds. These dogs have not been properly socialized and must go to someone who knows what he or she is doing.
I would suggest contacting some of the local German Shepherd Rescue volunteers for advice and assistance. They can probably give you some great information if you do end up in the position of having to find a new home for this pair of dogs. German Shepherd Rescue Orange County has a wonderful Web site with lots of information at
Thanks for caring about these dogs. I am sure you will be able to make a difference in their lives.