Last week, animal advocate and dog trainer Steffen Baldwin released an astonishing behind-the-scenes video as he unchained a dog for the first time in its life.
Baldwin, a County Humane Agent who also founded the Animal Cruelty Task (ACT) Force of Ohio, got wind of the dog named Tank from neighbors and concerned citizens who were worried about possible neglect.
There was nothing to be done legally, since Ohio state laws dictate that a dog with food, water, and shelter (basically, a dog house) is “adequately” cared for. Thus, Baldwin reached out to the owners to try and find a solution.
Fortunately, the owners were receptive to the possibility of finding Tank another home. His yard was shared as a play area with their several small children, and Tank was exhibiting some worrisome behavior, like lunging at them from his chain. Things had gotten to the point where they couldn’t even feed him without tossing his food to him from a distance.
The unneutered two-year-old dog was chained twenty four hours a day, without any physical or mental stimulation — or any comprehension of the world beyond that chain. Though Tank appears to be a Pit Bull, Baldwin quickly stated that the shape of his head (i.e., Pit Bull-shaped) had absolutely nothing to do with his behavior.
“Tank was behaving the way chained dogs behave, as the stress and anxiety and energy builds and builds without a healthy release.”
Baldwin, a force-free trainer, came armed with hot dogs and the assurance that Tank was “a good boy” in order to start the gentle process of making friends. Using the expertise he has acquired over the years, including an apprenticeship with his dog-training father back in 2007, Steffen gained Tank’s trust.
Finally, he was able to free him from his chain.
It took Baldwin about an hour to get the scared, snarling canine to understand he was helping him, unchaining him for good, and walking him off on a leash. In a truly touching moment, Baldwin tells the pup, “Let’s go do stuff — let’s go be a dog.”
They spent the next hour on a good long walk in the country, getting out some of Tank’s pent-up energy.
“He wanted to stop and smell the flowers a lot,” Steffen told PupJournal, “and I was inclined to let him.”
Steffen’s background is an interesting one; he started out as an Airborne Paratrooper in the Army. After a training apprenticeship with his father — a dog trainer for over 50 years in Pasadena, CA — he moved to Ohio, where he became the Executive Director of a private, non-profit Humane Society as well as the County Humane Agent (notably, under Ohio law, Humane Agents are paid a mere $25 per month).
Related: These Dogs Were Rescued From A Fighting Ring. Watch What Happens When They Meet For The First Time.
Baldwin’s animal welfare resume since then has only grown. After five years in administration, he decided he wanted to do something more hands-on with animals, so he “took his Humane Agent position on the road” by forming the ACT Ohio non-profit.
Since 2013, ACT Ohio has saved over 600 dogs, with a 98% placement rating. Each dog starts at Baldwin’s home with training before going into foster and adoption, which has led to the formation of his business Save Them Dog Training.
In addition to saving everything from cows to cats to chickens with ACT, he has also taken well over 100 dogs off of chains — and now Tank is part of that list.
In an interesting turn of events, Tank is still with his owners… and still off of his chain! According to Baldwin, one of the owners has had a renewed interest in Tank’s care. Baldwin is taking the dog to be neutered this week, and will continue training him for the next few weeks until the pup is ready to go to a foster home.
A local rescue will take over from there to help him find his new, chain-free forever home.
Baldwin is grateful for the help and support of both the community and the owners, stating: “Everyone wants to see Tank have the best life possible!”
We’re confident that he will, now that he is freed from his chain and in the care of ACT Ohio.
If interested in learning more about ACT Ohio or adopting Tank once he is ready, please email or visit their website. Donations are always needed to help them continue to save as many animals as possible and fight for stronger animal protection laws in Ohio.
Header image: Steffen Baldwin