By Krista Sobecki, Humane Investigations Coordinator
As cold winter weather comes to our region, our Humane Investigations team begins to receive a flurry of questions from pet owners about how to properly care for their animals in cold weather. Recent changes in Animal Cruelty Law mean that there are specific restrictions on when and how an animal can be out in the cold. These laws also outline what must be provided to animals while they are outside.
Animals who are tethered can be especially vulnerable to the cold, so it is important to know the guidelines. According to the law, when the temperature is below 32 degrees, a dog cannot be left outside on a tether for more than 30 minutes. It’s important to remember that regardless of the temperature, a dog cannot be tethered outside for more than nine cumulative hours within a 24-hour period.
The type of tether and collar you use are just as important. If a dog is tethered, the line must be at least 10 feet long or three times the length of the dog. The tether must be secured to a properly fitted collar. This collar cannot be a tow or log chain or a choke, pinch, prong or chain collar and must keep the dog from becoming tangled.
Outdoor animals need you to give special attention to their shelters to protect them from winter’s freezing wind, rain and snow. The law provides details about the type of shelter that pet owners should provide to outdoor animals. Shelters must provide protection from the weather, retain the animal’s body heat and keep them dry. They must also be clean and sanitary.
If an animal is kept outside, their owner must provide for their basic needs including giving them access to food and drinkable water.
You can help us keep the pets of our region warm and dry during the cold winter months. If you have seen animals being kept outside improperly or you have witnessed any kind of animal cruelty or neglect, contact our Humane Investigations team at 412.847.7066 or call 9-1-1.