• Karen Rae

Giving is Living-South Africa: 12 dogs gain their freedom

Giving is Living (GIL) is based in Cape Town, South Africa, where the group focuses on unchaining dogs in the townships to allow them to move more freely and safely, and to get exercise. Founder, Sioni Puri, explains that many people resort to chaining their dogs because they don’t have fenced yards and fear that the dogs will be hit by cars or stolen for dog fighting rings. Owners also worry their dogs will be harmed in gang initiations: some gangs require animal abuse as an initiation into the gang.


One of the problems with chains is that they are often too short. Although legally, a dog chain is supposed to be at least 1 meter (about a yard) in length, there is no realistic way to enforce and monitor this, Sioni explains, resulting in many dogs being tied to desperately short chains. So short, they don’t even have room to defecate away from the spot where they are lying or to move into shade to avoid the harsh rays of the sun.

Palesa on an incredibly short chain

Some chains are so heavy, adding a huge weight to carry around, the dog can barely move. Long chains present their own problems; a dog's paw can get wrapped up in it, even cutting off circulation, leaving the dog in pain and lame. Long chains can also get tangled and wrap around objects, so that the dog is unable to move, not even able to lie down.

GIL was awarded a grant from AKI to allow them to first go into the community and identify dogs who need to be unchained and, in cases where the owners can’t afford to build fencing, GIL would purchase building materials and pay the labor to do this. Some owners do have a fence but it has become broken and needs repair.


Palesa's yard before the GIL fence was built

Palesa unchained!

Palesa's new fence

GIL works closely with other local animal welfare organizations who get the unchained dogs spayed or neutered and who monitor the situation to make sure the dogs remain off-chain and that the fence remains intact.


Watch the video below of Bhule experiencing his first time off-chain!


Here's Max enjoying a run in his first off-chain experience:



Bruno was a little more tentative than the others. Here he is, slowly testing the waters of his new found freedom:



If a newly unchained dog doesn't have a dog house, GIL also tries to find a donor to donate a dog house, and sometimes even some food:



In some cases, GIL decided to use wooden pallets for fencing as they found that wire fences were often cut and stolen by people in the community.


A new fence made out of recycled wooden pallets

GIL managed to unchain a dozen dogs by building or repairing fences. I’m sure you can imagine that for the newly unchained dogs, some of whom are experiencing freedom for the first time in their lives, the relief of not being tethered in a tiny space was huge. Sioni felt that the project will continue its good work but needs to work more closely with the owners and communities so that everyone understands the importance of allowing dogs to live in more comfortable surroundings and to been the freedom to be dogs (one of GIL's unchained dogs, below).