A new law requires dog owners to provide sufficient shelter during winter months.
The law requires a shelter to be made of sound material and be enclosed on all sides with an entrance big enough for the dog and a solid floor. During winter months bedding is required in the shelter. Sharon Cravens is President of Jamestown’s Best Friends Sanctuary. Cravens said law enforcement is already preparing for the new law.
“A lot of our deputies have even asked for copies of it to know what the law required to do and what they can instruct the person they’re talking to about the dog,” Cravens said. “You know it can actually prevent a dog from maybe freezing to death. And if you’re cold outside I guarantee you they’re cold.”
The new law also requires the shelter to be sufficiently sized for the dog. Each dog must have their own shelter unless the shelter is large enough for multiple dogs. This is the first winter under the new shelter guidelines passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
“Most of what our officers do is go out and address the situation and the problem and inform them of what is required for them to have, proper shelter and what they need,” Cravens said. “They’ll give them that day and say they’ll be back tomorrow and check and if its not they’ll issue a citation.”
The law also states during the summer months shelters have to have sufficient shade. Cravens said it was common to see dogs left outside with no shelter all year around.
“The dog can become very ill with pneumonia,” Cravens said. “You may have a big vet bill. You could be facing a fine. Depending on how bad the situation his they could put in on probation. There’s different circumstances.”
Cravens said the new law replaces a previous law that was vague and made it difficult for law enforcement to define what a proper shelter is.