Know a dog consigned to life on the end of a chain?

A former Linn County resident is helping to show how you can make a big difference, not only for the tethered pet but for the entire family.

Kelly Peterson grew up in Albany and Lebanon and works for the Humane Society of the United States.

Last spring, she became a founding member of a volunteer group called Fences for Fido that, as its name suggests, encloses yards, free of charge, for dog owners whose animals would otherwise be tied up.

Its first "build" was May 23 in Portland, where Fences for Fido is based and where Peterson, 42, now lives and works.

The original goal was to do one fence per month, but word of the group's work spread so quickly, creating demand, that one almost immediately became two.

A doghouse is part of each fence package, as is a discount for spaying/neutering.

To date, the volunteers have done 11 fence projects, each at a price tag of about $500. The costs are covered by donations - the group has a list of 250 donors and volunteers - lined up by a nine-person board of directors.

Peterson is on the board as treasurer and outreach coordinator, and Andrea Kozil is the chairwoman and volunteer coordinator.

"What I've been amazed by is what a difference the fence makes for the entire family," Peterson said. "These are people who love their dogs and want to do the right thing for them, but they're going through a variety of problems, mostly financial, and the dog on the chain is just one illustration of them.

"We don't judge these people. We just want to help. This is a tangible change we can make for the dog and the whole family. I'd love to come down and do a build in Linn County."

Jeff Otto, a deputy at the Linn County Sheriff's Office, joined Fences for Fido on Sept. 12 at a build in Salem, along with his 13-year-old son, Aaron Smith.

The treasurer for SafeHaven Humane Society, Otto learned about Fences for Fido on "Humane Lobby Day" during the last session of the legislature. Sponsored by the HSUS, that's a day for citizens to speak to lawmakers about animal rights issues.

"Wow, this is like a really nice thing," Otto remembers thinking upon discovering Fences for Fido. "One thing I like is that it's helping both the dog and the dog owner. It doesn't villainize or criminalize anybody; instead, it's extending a hand. Rather than writing letters to the editor or calling police about 'the stupid neighbor with his chained-up dog,' it's being proactive, seeing what you can do to help, building people up."

Mid-valley residents interested in getting involved, either by working with the Portland group or starting a chapter locally, should send an email to andrea@fencesforfido.org.

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