Gavin’s incident is the fourth serious injury due to improper tethering in the area this year

By Kelli Bender
Updated April 18, 2016 06:59 PM

Three weeks ago, Gavin was dropped off at Maury County Animal Services near Nashville, Tennessee, missing a paw. The individual who left the pit bull mix at the shelter said the dog lost his paw after getting his leg stuck in a trap, but a closer look by the vet revealed an even sadder truth.

According WKRN, Dr. Samantha Holter with Veterinary Wellness Clinic of Columbia examined Gavin’s wound and determined the pup chewed the paw off himself in an effort to get free after he got tangled in his own chain tether.

“If it was a trap, we 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.”

Pet Pals, a group that helps sick and injured animals, stepped in to help pay for the surgery Gavin needed for his self-inflicted wound and the damage left by the chain. Now, the canine is fully recovered and bounding around his new forever home.

While Gavin got a happy ending, his injuries speak to a bigger problem. This is the fourth serious injury from improper tethering that Pet Pals has seen in Maury County this year.

“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.”

Current law in the area states that owners can be charged with a misdemeanor if they knowingly tie up their dog in a way that can result in injury. Unfortunately, this legislature tends to protect dogs only after the injury has occurred.

“Right now we really don’t have teeth to prosecute,” Columbia City Councilwoman Debbie Matthews told WKRN. “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 and other animal rights supporters hope cases like Gavin’s can lead to permanent changes in the law that would ban chaining your dog altogether and allow police to step in when they see a tethered dog in trouble.