Maury County dog chews off paw to escape chain

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A dog that chewed off its own paw to escape its chain has undergone surgery, recovered and now has a new forever home.

But according to the group Pet Pals, the pit bull mix named “Gavin” is the fourth animal in Maury County that has suffered a serious injury due to improper tethering so far this year.

Pet Pals is a group that helps sick and injured animals in the community. It paid to have Gavin’s leg amputated so he could survive.

“That tugs at your heart strings,” said Pet Pals president Sonjalyn Dickson Rine. “To see that exposed bone and that look on his face. It just looked like he had no hope left.”

Gavin was dropped off at Maury County Animal Services three weeks ago by someone who said the dog had gotten its leg caught in a trap. But upon further examination, Dr. Samantha Holter with Veterinary Wellness Clinic of Columbia realized that wasn’t the case.

“If it was a trap there would’ve had multiple lacerations to that limb,” explained Dr. Holter. “Gavin had a single laceration above his injury, so we’re able to tell it was a chain that caused the damage to his limb.”

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Dr. Holter went on to say that the injury appears to have been caused by the pup getting tangled in its own chain and then gnawing off its foot to gain freedom.

There was also raw skin around his neck where the chain must have been placed.

According to Tennessee state law, someone can be charged with a misdemeanor if “a person commits an offense who knowingly ties, tethers, or restrains a dog in a manner that results in the dog suffering bodily injury.”

Columbia City Councilwoman Debbie Matthews says the law only protects dogs when it’s too late – like in Gavin’s case.

“Right now we really don’t have teeth to prosecute,” explained Matthews, who also works with the rescue Proverbs 12:10, which helped Gavin find a home. “If we pass an ordinance violation for the City of Columbia, there might be a $50 fine associated with a tethering case. There’s really not a law they have broken criminally.”

Matthews wants the state’s law to look like the Davidson County ordinance, which among other things, bans chaining dogs.

It would also allow the police to step in if they see a dog that’s tangled in a chain before it causes serious bodily injury to the pup.

“Davidson County said, ‘We need to define tethering’ and they did,” said Matthews. “The rest of Tennessee is behind.”

She has worked at the local and state level to get stricter laws in place.

In 2014, state lawmakers considered tougher tethering laws. Matthews would like to start that conversation again.

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