JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – This weekend marks the first time every Northeast Tennessee animal shelter is coming together under a common cause.

They’re working to stop the chaining of dogs on people’s property. Often times the dogs are left outdoors for very long periods of time, tethered on a chain with little freedom and often poor access to shelter and food or water.

These local animal shelter leaders are advocating for new laws to stop it.

“People that chain dogs, it’s legalized animal cruelty,” said Kevin King, director of the Unicoi County Animal Shelter.

Shelters, humane societies and animal rescues from all Northeast Tennessee counties are joining hands, hosting an “anti-chaining” event on Saturday in Downtown Johnson City to inspire change and educate members of the community.

“When the dogs aren’t socialized or they get free a lot of people don’t look for them, they end up in shelters, and the shelters are the ones responsible for trying to save these dogs,” said King.

“An animal or dog has a better life if they do not have to live on a chain,” said Tammy Davis, director of the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter.

Johnson City is the only municipality in the Tri-Cities region with an anti-chaining ordinance in place.

The ordinance, which went into effect in 2020, limits the time a dog may be tethered outside unsupervised to 12 consecutive hours.

The shelter leaders hope that expands to all cities and counties.

“We want for that person to keep the animal but for the animal to be properly taken care of and have the best life possible in its home,” said Davis.

King added that the chaining of dogs is something they encounter every single day; and it perpetuates vicious cycles at local shelters as many dogs break free from their chains, run free and have unwanted litters. Many dogs also end up emotionally distressed and anti-social after being chained and wind up in shelters as dogs that are not adoptable.

“Everyone is just tired of dealing with this issue over and over and over,” said King.

They say if you want change, contact your local city and county representatives and ask for an anti-chaining ordinance.

“We need the people to contact their representatives to tell them to stop this. We don’t want them chained, you don’t want them chained, we need you to tell them that. And if they won’t vote for it, you need to vote for somebody else,” said King.

The shelter leaders hope the community will show up in support of their mission on Saturday, May 21 at King Commons Park from 11-4pm.

The anti-chaining event will feature local vendors, food trucks, education and many resources on animal welfare.

“This event is just a great way for the local shelters and rescues to come together and let everybody know we all have that same common goal,” said Davis.