KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new nonprofit is working to break chains and instead build fences for dogs across Knoxville.

“You don’t realize that it’s a huge issue in our community until you drive down some side streets and some back allies and you actually see these dogs,” Julia Roy, vice president and co-founder of Chainfree Knoxville, said.

Roy said Chainfree Knoxville’s mission is to eliminate the unattended chaining or tethering or dogs. Instead, the organization provides free fencing for eligible families.

She spoke about some of the characteristics that come with dogs that are chained up 24/7.

“A lot of dogs that are chained are not very well socialized, often times they can be aggressive, very barky, fearful because they have their own little territory and they protect their turf and their people as well,” Roy explained.

Once released, Roy described how the new space can have a positive impact.

“They become, often times, a little less fearful,” she began. “They are a little less scary once they get in there, so we have noticed some positive behavioral changes once dogs get into fencing.”

Roy said with the average cost of each fence build sitting at $1,000 she knows it can be too expensive for many families to add on themselves. She also acknowledged for renters it may not be an option. That’s why she reminded people to understand that in many cases it’s not the owners’ intent to keep their dogs on a chain full-time.

“We are non-judgmental when interacting with the owners because we understand that dogs end up in these more precarious situations for a variety of reasons,” said Roy.

With 20 dogs freed already, Roy says they all know there’s more work to be done.

“We’ve helped people that just can’t afford a fence, we’ve also helped people that have disabilities,” she said. “We have helped people that are single mothers, we’ve helped a veteran, so these are real people and behind every chained dog is a story and I think it’s important to remember that.”

As of Friday morning, Chainfree Knoxville has freed 20 dogs and built 13 fences, 10 of which were volunteer builds. The organizations next volunteer build is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, 2022.