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Image: Russelline Steinbuhler
A dog left chained outside for 3 years with no human interaction has finally been set free.

Meet Peanut. Peanut has been chained to a shabby doghouse in a rural Pennsylvania backyard ever since he was a puppy. He has never been let loose from his tether.

Until now.

Peanut is a sweet dog whose owners have kept him tied up in their yard, never giving him attention or exercise. All he knew of this life was his chain.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

Because there was a fence surrounding the property, nobody even knew Peanut existed except his owners. But that all changed when the fence toppled over. After that, local residents began to notice Peanut’s plight, and became alarmed enough to alert authorities.

But local authorities didn’t budge on the issue. Eventually, word got around to HOPE for Erie Animal Wellness, a rescue group in that area specializing in saving chained up dogs.

However, because HOPE is located an hour away, they couldn’t find the time or resources to come to Peanut’s rescue right away.

Enter Peanut’s savior, Russelline Steinbuhler:

Steinbuhler’s daughter is a volunteer at HOPE. She heard about Peanut, and called her mother, whose home is much closer to Peanut than HOPE.

When Steinbuhler went to go check on Peanut herself, she immediately knew she had to help him. She reported that his doghouse was so dilapidated that the roof had holes in it and the floor was rotted out.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

Because it was a wet spring, Peanut was found lying in a bed of water because he couldn’t move enough to get away from it.

She vowed to spend time with him, and she followed through.

No Sense, No Feeling

When she approached Peanut’s owners, she discovered that they weren’t intending to be cruel to the dog; they simply were stuck in an archaic way of thinking. In times past, it was common and acceptable to keep a dog chained in the backyard and not interact with it. It is a more modern sentiment to feel that your dog should be loved, should be indoors, and should receive the same care as humans.

As shocking as Peanut’s plight is to many modern day dog owners, his owners thought it completely normal.

In the animal rescue world, there is a saying about people like this: “No sense, no feeling.” It means that people who lack awareness also tend to lack empathy. It isn’t outright cruelty, but passive neglect.

Because lack of education was to blame rather than malice, Peanut’s family actually agreed to let Steinbuhler offer assistance by coming over to visit and interact with the dog. In addition, HOPE provided guidance during the process.

First, they got Peanut all new things – a new house, new bowls, a new long tether, and a new collar.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

Because his new tether had more length, Peanut was able to reach the grass in his yard for the first time. When Steinbuhler arrived the next time, Peanut was lying in the grass, grinning ear to ear. She said he was already a different dog that day.

Once the physical comforts were in place, Peanut’s rescuers set out to look after his emotional comforts next. They sought to revive his trampled spirit.

The dog was so deprived of interaction with humans that he didn’t even know his own name.

Steinbuhler went to Peanut often, sometimes every single day. Peanut was initially so excited about being acknowledged that he couldn’t stop jumping on people. But amazingly, he quickly learned simple obedience commands, and games like fetch. He loves fetch.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

Though Peanut was still chained up, he was gaining a new life, and was experiencing happiness for perhaps the first time in his 3 years on this earth.

The Law Finally Steps In

Though combatting the attitudes of individuals is difficult if not impossible, Peanut’s rescue crew got the help they needed by a seemingly fateful change that occurred in Pennsylvania as they were working with the dog.

RELATED: Watch a Dog Chained Up for 15 Years Finally Set Free for the First Time

The state just put a law into effect which limits the amount of time dogs can be chained up. When Peanut’s owners learned about this law, they agreed to give him up to HOPE rather than keep him and change their practices.

It was for the better, because Peanut was now finally liberated from his life of miserable confinement.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

Now, his real life truly begins.

First Steps Toward Freedom

The first trip for Peanut away from his chain was straight to the groomer, where he received what was likely the first bath of his life.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

But a groom wasn’t the only thing this facility had in store for him; out back, they had a fenced in yard. Here, Peanut could finally do something he had never done in his life: run.

Steinbuhler cried at the sight of the dog running gleefully around the yard. The former owners told her that they’d never seen him run once in three years.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

The video shows Peanut so elated that he has to first gain his composure before he finally ran gracefully.

Imagine going into your adulthood, never having been let off a chain, and never having run. Then imagine how happy you would be when you were given your freedom.

You would look like this:

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

More Dogs Like Peanut Exist

Peanut’s life will only continue to improve from here. He is now with a foster family, who is devoted to showing him what it is like to be truly loved.

WATCH: Dog Chained For First 3 Years of Life Runs for the First Time
Image: Russelline Steinbuhler

HOPE will protect Peanut for the rest of his life, ensuring he is never tied to a chain again as long as he lives.

Steinbuhler hopes that by hearing Peanut’s tale, awareness is gained. Though tethering laws exist in various states, it is up to local officials to enforce them, and oftentimes this is neglected.

If you know about a dog who lives its life on a chain, remember Peanut’s story and contact your local rescue organizations. Talk to the owners and see if they are open to changing their treatment, or releasing their dog to someone who can better care for it.

You can turn a life of misery into a life of love and excitement. You can save someone.

If you would like to learn more about HOPE for Erie Animal Wellness, volunteer, or make a donation to help them save more chained up dogs, please click here.

READ NEXT: Montreal SPCA Circulating Petition To End Permanent Dog Chaining in the Province

SOURCEThe Dodo
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Cody has worked and volunteered with rescue animals her entire life. She worked as a veterinary assistant and technician in shelters, rescues, boarding facilities, doggy daycares and animal hospitals in New York and Chicago throughout her teens and twenties, and now resides as a pet foster mom in Upstate New York.