Sarah is a Great Dane–hound mix who lived outdoors in North Carolina, surrounded by nothing but dirt and her own waste. The only person who ever cared about her had died, so the dog spent 24 hours a day chained outside, bored, alone, and desperate for affection. Her remaining owner did not interact with Sarah because she thought the dog was “yucky” and didn’t want to touch her. 

sarah chained dog

Sarah suffers from a medical condition called “dry eye,” which requires daily treatment. Without medication, her eyes became irritated and filled with mucus, and she was slowly going blind. She was also suffering from a severe ear infection that had gone untreated for so long that she was in danger of losing her hearing. When her owner called PETA for help, she feared that Sarah had contracted rabies because the dog had been drooling. But Sarah didn’t have rabies: Her drooling was likely a result of stress, depression, and the excruciating pain of her infections. She also suffered from fleas, intestinal worms, and heartworms.

Sarah’s owner surrendered her to PETA, and staff immediately took her to the Sam Simon Center and started treating her medical problems. Nearly blind and deaf and exhausted from battling her multiple illnesses, she struggled to walk the few steps to the elevator of the building. The 2-year-old looked and acted much older than she was and spent most of the time sleeping. When she was awake, all Sarah wanted to do was lay her huge head in someone’s lap and be told what a beautiful, special girl she was. This was likely the first time anyone had interacted with her in at least six months.

With medical care and lots of love from PETA’s staff, Sarah began to transform into a totally different dog! As her eye and ear conditions cleared up, we realized that her blindness and deafness weren’t permanent, as we had initially feared.

While she was recovering, PETA staff learned about a family whose dog had recently passed away, leaving their remaining dog distraught with grief. Could it be that Sarah might help the family as much as they could help her?

When the family met Sarah, it was love at first sight all around. Even their grieving dog, who had been depressed, perked up at the sight of her and began wagging her tail. That sealed the deal. 

In her new home, Sarah is now surrounded by the warmth and love of her new family and her new golden retriever BFF. She’ll never have to be lonely again.

Check out her heartwarming rescue video:

You can help more “backyard dogs” like Sarah. Here’s how:

1. If a chained dog’s life is in danger or lives in an area in which chaining is illegal, call the police or animal control.

Many counties and cities have laws addressing chained or penned dogs. See the list of such places or look up your local law on If your area doesn’t have such a law, “backyard dogs” must still have shelter, adequate food, and clean water, and they must be provided with veterinary care if they are sick or injured. If a “backyard dog” is in imminent danger—for example, if the animal is emaciated, is obviously ill or injured, or has no shelter or cannot access it—notify animal control or the police immediately. If neither responds quickly, call PETA.

2. If chaining is permitted in your area and you know of a chained dog who is not in an emergency situation, your best bet at improving his or her life is to befriend the owner. 

Be super-polite and friendly and get permission to visit and care for the dog:

  • Ask permission to take the dog for walks.
  • With the owner’s approval, offer the dog some toys and treats.
  • Visit regularly. (But be careful not to become a nuisance. Follow your instincts based on the owner’s response to your involvement.)
  • If needed, offer help with grooming, such as nail-trimming, or to take the dog to the vet.
  • Without being confrontational, talk to the owner about dogs’ needs.

sarah chained dog treat


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