Activists 'break the chains' in love and protest

Tamira Thayne and Joe Horvath "break their chains" before exchanging vows on the state Capitol steps. Earlier they led a protest for legislation to ban 24/7 dog tethering in Pennsylvania.

Animal welfare activist Tamira Thayne spent the day tethered to a dog house on the Capitol steps to protest the suffering of dogs who live their life on chains.

At 5 p.m., with about 75 supporters looking on, she "broke" her chain to marry her longtime beau Joe Horvath.

[See video courtesy of Roxbury News here.]

Many couples choose the grand Capitol Rotunda as the location for their wedding ceremonies. Thayne and Horvath were no doubt the first to spend their wedding day on the hot marble outside with chains around their necks.

After sharing some private words, Thayne and Horvath unchained each other's collars before exchanging vows. Afterward, the couple cut a cake with two unusual - and hilarious - figures on top: a bride dragging a groom by a chain.

Thayne founded the Altoona-based advocacy group Dogs Deserve Better has fought for legislation to end 24/7 dog chaining in Pennsylvania. Last year she spent 52 days chained to a dog house on the Capitol steps in an attempt to win passage of the legislation.

The current Senate bill, SB972(and a companion bill in the House) would ban tethering from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., a compromise Thayne said, but better than the status quo, which subjects chained animals to cruel weather conditions, not to mention isolation and neglect.

Those harsh conditions can lead chained dogs to attack - even kill - people, especially children who come near them - and makes them vulnerable to attack by other animals.

Veterinarian Lilliam Alfaro of Maryland was among the three dozen or so activists who tied themselves to dog houses for ten hours Monday. She said she came to Pennsylvania to speak for the voiceless.

"Being tethered 24 hours, seven days a week is abuse and can lead to death - the suffering they endure with disease is even worse," she said.

Alfaro recalled treating one tethered dog who had been attacked by a pack of roaming dogs. The owner didn't bring him in for treatment until days after the attack. At that point his wounds were badly infected, requiring serious surgery.

Eventually the owner was forced by humane officials to cover the cost of the veterinary care, she said, but the dog was released back to him.

Soon Thayne and Horvath will move to Virginia to devote their energies to turning Michael Vick's "house of horrors" in into a house of hope for formerly chained dogs.

Thayne's group has purchased Vick's Bad Newz Kennel property and will turn it into a sanctuary and rehab facility for chained dogs.

Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester), sponsor of the anti-tethering bill now stuck in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, was among those who stopped by to chat with Thayne and other protesters.

Dinniman said he would work this summer to build support for the legislation among Pennsylvania citizens.

"The key argument here is are dogs an agricultural commodity or members of our family?" he said. "For the vast majority of people they are members of their family. We need to hear from those people in large numbers."