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Columnist
Get involved in helping chained dogs
By Joni Hirsch Blackman | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 7/19/2008 12:06 AM

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Have you won anything yet?

The new trend of printing a survey on the bottom of nearly every retail receipt started out somewhat tempting. Answer a few questions about your experience and have a chance to win $500, $1,000 or more!

I'm always more than ready to comment about my experience, but what started as occasional surveys at a few stores and restaurants now seems to be constant surveys at almost every store. Not winning anything so far - after many, many attempts - has reduced the surveys' appeal. Does anyone know anyone who has won any of these things?

I did win something once - not so long ago. I entered a national online contest - nothing creative, just sent in my name and contact info once a day for several weeks. I was somewhat skeptical when someone called my house to tell me I'd won - but I actually did! I got an expenses-paid two-night trip for two to Los Angeles to watch the taping of a WB television show, which I thought would include "Gilmore Girls" (that was why I'd entered, but it didn't), but it was a fun trip for one of my kids and I, anyway. They really did pay for everything and it was a trip we'll always remember.

Megan Rach of Naperville worked harder than I did to win her contest. If you haven't heard about it, you haven't been paying attention to the local media in the past couple of weeks. Megan has been in the news everywhere, talking about the local texting contest she won, earning her an expenses-paid trip for her and her mom to New York, where she participated in the national texting contest.

Though Megan didn't win the New York contest, she loved her visit to the city and the ensuing media attention. The story was a natural for summer TV and radio newscasts and countless newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal. The Raches have had a great time enjoying the coverage and have been a little surprised by the amount of attention she's received.

Not me. I remember working at a daily newspaper in the summertime - anything remotely offbeat and fun was some of the best news of the day when there was otherwise no news or just really bad news. Thanks, Megan, for some midsummer light entertainment - glad you enjoyed NYC!

Speaking of light news, my favorite story from this week was the collie from Northfield who was found, five years after he disappeared, in the Rockford area and was reunited with his family.

Last week, I wrote about sadder dog news. Responses included Cynthia Drobitsch of Dogs Deserve Better in Wheaton who answered the question I posed about how to help a dog you might see chained in someone's yard.

If you see a chained dog and would like to help the animal without getting too involved in the situation, submit the address of the home on dogsdeservebetter.org. A representative will contact the homeowners to provide educational materials and hopefully make the owners aware of the dangers associated with chained dogs, as well as resources to help deter them from continuing to chain the animal - such as sources for inexpensive fencing.

Another option is getting some door hangers from the organization and when you see an animal chained, hang one on the door of the home, which directs the owners to the group's Web site.

"Even well-intentioned people may think it is OK to chain their dog and leave them unsupervised for a 'short' amount of time, but it only takes a few minutes for a dog to become tangled and hang itself," Drobitsch wrote in an e-mail. "It is a common occurrence. Extended time periods of chaining lead to anxiety, aggressiveness, lack of social skills and lack of medical and health attention, to name some."

The Dogs Deserve Better Web site has a lot more information, including laws that are being passed, such as in California, to prohibit chaining animals and ways to help get such laws in other states.

They also have a store on the site - but no surveys to fill out after shopping there.