Spreading Unconditional Love: Meet the Heart of the Carolinas UU Animal Ministry


As with many grassroots organizations, Chain Free Dogs started with a few good people doing heartfelt volunteer work on behalf of their favorite animal!

Chartered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2018,  Heart of the Carolinas UU Animal Ministry is moving forward stronger than ever! Volunteer Claudia Perkinson says she and several others saw a sadly growing need in Lincoln County, and they reacted by rallying together to build fences for dogs they found in compromised situations.

“As people saw what we were doing, they began to volunteer and donate,” shares Claudia.

The group builds free, donor-funded fences for dogs living on chains, tethers, or in small, outdoor pens, with a goal of getting all dogs in Lincoln County off chains, and into a safe, comfortable living situation. With dedication, determination, and much love, volunteers have “unchained” over 200 dogs – including 78 last year in 2022.


Builds are scheduled every other week, with usually 15 to 30 volunteers taking part. Funded 100% by donations, and staffed completely by volunteers, the group always welcomes new workers and supporters. Many donations are made to honor pets who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge – and you can sign up to donate, volunteer, or request a fence for your own dog at ChainFreeDogs.org.

“We will build and outfit a fenced enclosure for people in need who meet certain qualifications,” says Claudia. After a dog owner applies for fencing, a meeting is scheduled to review the animal’s current needs. Dogs are required to be spayed or neutered (the group can make arrangements and pay for the procedure), and they must be up-to-date on necessary shots.


“We provide a ‘dig proof’ fence, a dog house, straw bedding, water and food bowls, and other essentials,” adds Claudia. While the group currently works exclusively in Lincoln County, they may be able to refer pet owners in other areas to similar resources.

Requests for fences often come from individuals whose dogs are running free or are chained, but also from neighbors and concerned citizens, animal control, and other animal welfare organizations.

Here’s what’s included in a “build” by the group:

  • A sturdy “dog proof” fence
  • An elevated dog house
  • Rain and sun protection
  • Straw bedding
  • Pooper-scooper
  • Water pail
  • Enrichment toys
  • Safety and security
  • Access to low-cost spay/neuter and vaccines
  • Heartworm information
  • Love and affection
  • A lasting relationship

The group is also blessed with generous supporters from within the Lincoln County community, including Dog Supplies Warehouse, East Catawba Animal Clinic, East Lincoln Animal Hospital, Lawn & Landscape by AJ, Landmark Fences of Lake Norman, and Max and Neo Dog Supplies.


What’s at stake when a dog is left in an undesirable situation? Chaining can be detrimental to a dog’s physical and psychological well-being, but fortunately, many cities and counties are passing laws to ban the practice. Chained dogs do not receive adequate exercise, they are susceptible to overheating and freezing in extreme weather conditions, they may drag their chain and spill water bowls (leaving them dehydrated), they cannot escape the attack of a wild animal, or can even die from strangulation if they try to jump over something and become tangled.

For more information on how you can improve a dog’s life and continue spreading the love, email HEARTCAMUU@gmail.org, visit ChainFreeDogs.org, or call 704-280-2354.


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