By Adam Capotorto
As temperatures begin to drop down into the single digits, or even worse, the negatives, it is important to keep extra tabs on our four-legged companions. Fur coats only do so much, and anyone who overestimates their insulation in this cold weather may find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is unlawful to leave a pet outdoors unless provided with a sanitary shelter that regulates their average body temperature and keeps them dry. If you intend on tethering your dog outside to let some energy out while you attend to household chores, please keep in mind that the restraint must be three times the length of the dog, secured to a standard collar or vest, and the area must be clear of all debris. Tethers may be used for no longer than nine hours in a twenty-four-hour period. You must provide pets with food, water, and shade. If the temperature falls below 32 degrees or up above 90, the animal can spend no more than thirty minutes outdoors.
Those who do not abide by these laws can find themselves guilty of:
· Neglect: A summary offense carrying either a 90-day sentence and/or a $300 fine or a third-degree misdemeanor (if the animal is placed at risk or bodily injured) with a hefty fine of $2,000 and/or a one-year jail sentence.
· Cruelty: A second-degree misdemeanor carrying up to two years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
· Aggravated Cruelty: A felony of the third degree carrying up to seven years of jail time and/or a fine of $15,000.
Those found guilty of a felony violation will forfeit the abused animal to a shelter.
If you suspect someone of animal cruelty, document images of the animal and its condition, along with a description of the abuse and when it occurred, then submit it to local law enforcement. You can also leave an anonymous tip if you feel uncomfortable using identifying information.
You wouldn’t want to be out in the elements when the next winter storm rolls around, and neither does Fido. Take extra precautions to ensure your animal is properly cared for during these winter months. If you’re unsure whether or not your beloved companion can stand a dip in temperature, always remember, “If you’re cold, they’re cold.”