Gina and Jim Freemon of C.H.A.I.N.E.D. INC. walk up and down, through empty lots and alleys, passing abandoned homes, looking for a dog that neighbors reported as living chained to a porch without shelter. The Freemons are working one of their December outreach events for C.H.A.I.N.E.D. in southwest Detroit.

Gina, a community care registered nurse, formed C.H.A.I.N.E.D. in 2011 after seeing dogs suffering physically and mentally from living on a chain. The nonprofit outreach organization was created to enhance the lives of 24/7-chained/outside dogs, providing life enhancing supplies and services, including safe, fenced kennels and yards, insulated dog houses, spay/neuter assistance, vaccines, preventatives, food assistance, treats, toys, love and, most importantly, owner education.

The organization has served approximately 951 families, 4,181 dogs, and is now just one of many Michigan Pet Alliance nonprofit members. They’re doing the hard work of freeing dogs from what can only be described as shackles, while asking lawmakers to literally hold the logging chain that Jim salvaged from the neck of a rescued dog. C.H.A.I.N.E.D. works with communities and elected officials to help them create anti-tethering laws for their communities.

The Freemons’ second stop was a few blocks away where C.H.A.I.N.E.D. had provided a kennel and two heated shelters for a family’s dogs. Volunteers grab a straw bale and food bag from the truck and wait at the back gate, not knowing how they might be greeted. Their apprehension evaporated when Gina went to the door and came back with a young boy who knew the drill and was eager to help. He put the dogs inside and helped us make sure the water heaters were working and bedding was replaced.

The next family welcomed the C.H.A.I.N.E.D. team warmly and they set to work. The task was cleaning the runs, which included removing numerous dead rats that had chosen the warmth of this dog’s shelter over the freezing cold. Sadly, finding frozen animals of all kinds is a frequent occurrence for the C.H.A.I.N.E.D. volunteers.

Gina and Jim used the relationship they built with the dog’s caretaker to offer neutering services for the dog. Although he didn’t agree this time, next month C.H.A.I.N.E.D. will try again, and again, until they convince the caretaker that it’s the right thing to do. Sterilization was originally a prerequisite for services, but they found it was a barrier for too many, so they’ve become experts at persuasion and education.

The day ended repairing the kennel of a gentle giant who greeted Gina, Jim and other volunteers as old friends.

Gina, Jim and the volunteers of C.H.A.I.N.E.D. never found the dog that they started the day seeking, but so many others were helped, including a new friend (pictured here with a gift from Nylabone).

As we strive to improve laws, educate pet owners, lawmakers and the public, and work our hardest to save animals in need, we will always be inspired by the positive relationships C.H.A.I.N.E.D. has spent a decade building, which meant every dog they encountered that day was warm, fed and loved. And that’s a pretty good start.

More information about C.H.A.I.N.E.D. can be found at https://chainedinc.org.