Unchained Melodies offers hope to dogs that have been tethered

The dogs that populate local rescue shelters are relinquished for a variety of reasons. Some because they are not easily potty trained, some because owners no longer wish to care for them. But the canines that end up with Unchained Melodies, a local adoption group, are there for one reason in particular. This group specializes in dogs who were previously tethered to a post for hours on end.

“Dogs can only stay tethered for 12 hours in Columbia,” said Sheila Ehler, a volunteer with the group. “In Springfield, that number is 30 minutes.” 

Most of the time, the dog owners eagerly turn over their unwanted canine, which will end up with one of Unchained Melodies’ multitude of foster parents. On average, the group has between 20 to 25 dogs staying at any one of over 30 foster parents’ homes. The numbers vary, but the goal remains constant.

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“Dogs should be part of a family, not chained outside in the cold,” said Demitrios Raftopoulos, a volunteer with the group who works in MU’s Title IX office. Seeking a permanent home for the animals is not always so simple though. Many dogs carry baggage from previous abuses and others are undesirable either for age or breed.

“Breed plays a big role in each dog’s adoptability,” said Jill Swain, another volunteer.

Almost all of the animals with the group are pit bull mixes, this breed faces restrictions and ordinances in a multitude of Missouri towns. Apartment owners often refuse pits and other large dogs from ever entering tenants’ homes. Some cities have banned the breed indefinitely. Still, the group remains hopeful and pays close attention to a forgotten piece of legislature

Last year, the Missouri House adjourned before it could decide on House Bill 1811. The bill would effectively eliminate all breed specific ordinances and policies throughout the state. Although never voted on, Swain hopes it shows a shift in mentality about the animals.

“Any dog can be vicious, it’s how they’re treated,” Swain said. “People are starting to familiarize with the breed, leading to lifting of pit bull bans in Boonville, Ashland, Hallsville and more.”

To adopt one of Unchained Melodies’ dogs, fill out an adoption form on their website. All dogs have a flat adoption fee of $150.