Living a dog’s life ... for half a day

Woman to protest by being chained to doghouse

Friday, June 29, 2007

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To sponsor Dawn Delph during the 2007 ‘‘Unchain the 50,” go to⁄ chainoff2007.html and scroll down to Maryland.

For about a year and a half, Dawn Delph has been re-examining her life.

The 29-year-old Waldorf woman and single mother of a 9-year-old leads a vegetarian lifestyle and strives to be a vegan, while serving as an environmental and animal advocate.

‘‘We can sit here and complain about all the horrible stuff in the world, but until you do something about it, you have no right to complain,” Delph said.

On Sunday, Delph is walking the walk, or she would be if she weren’t spending July 1 chained to a doghouse on the corner of Taylor Court and Bannister Circle.

Part of a national event developed by the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Dogs Deserve Better, ‘‘Unchain the 50” is a protest against the chaining and penning of canines for most of their lives.

During the 12-hour protest, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Delph will have literature available and a petition for signatures from those wanting stricter laws against the abuse of animals.

Founded by Pennsylvania resident Tammy S. Grimes, Dogs Deserve Better pushes for legislation that would make owners provide better treatment for pets.

In 2006, California was the first state to pass a law limiting the amount of time a dog could be tethered to an object, according to a press release from Dogs Deserve Better.

During the Fourth of July holiday, more than 70 people throughout the country will chain themselves to doghouses in an effort to raise awareness.

‘‘Living chained to a doghouse for 24 hours will be grueling and unimaginable for those of us who are so used to coming and going as we please,” said Dogs Deserve Better representative Susan Hartland, in a press release. ‘‘But the discomfort we will endure is nothing compared to the daily suffering of many of our nation’s dogs who spend their entire lives at the end of a chain ... baking in the summer sun or freezing in the winter cold.”

Although Delph doesn’t own a dog herself, her boyfriend, Jason Richardson, has a brindle boxer named Caesar that does not spend any long amount of time outdoors.

Richardson is slowly coming around to Delph’s way of thinking.

He doesn’t adhere to the vegetarian diet as strictly as his girlfriend, but he is respectful of it, and he is by her side for protests, whether advocating for humans — as they did when raising awareness of the Darfur genocide — or shedding light on issues of animal cruelty.

‘‘I think the majority of people are good,” Delph said. ‘‘If they knew what was going on, they wouldn’t be OK with it.”

Delph doesn’t shy away from voicing her opinion, and she doesn’t let jeering or bullying bother her too much. As a mother, she is concerned about retaliation for her protests, yet it doesn’t stop her from continuing. And Sunday she’s going to the dogs.

‘‘They’re our responsibility,” Delph said of dogs. ‘‘We domesticated them. I’m [acting as] their voice, and I have to talk.”

E-mail Sara K. Taylor at