ALBANY, N.Y. – Many know of the dangers of leaving pets outside in the cold for extended periods of time—but some may not know that it is illegal to do so in New York State.
According to the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, the law requires that all pets left outside in inclement weather must be provided with housing that has a waterproof roof with appropriate insulation.
Further, leaving animals inside vehicles during extreme weather is also illegal, and an animal control officer is allowed to remove any animal from what they deem to be unsafe condition in cold or hot climates.
“You do this job long enough and you’re going to see a whole bunch of stuff that nobody wants to see,” said Animal Control Officer Jason Hogan.
When someone in Albany reports an animal left in a dangerous situation, it is Hogan’s job to respond.
“There’s a lot of concern this time of year for animals being outside in inclement weather,” he said.
He says that this week alone, more than 10 of his calls have been people concerned of pets being left out in the cold. And when he rolls up, he says there are certain things he looks for.
“Assess the situation, first off is to see if the animal is in exigent circumstances,” explained Hogan.
Animal Control Officers follow the law by removing a pet if it is showing signs of serious distress.
“This time of year it could be heavy panting, it could be just lethargic because of the cold, hypothermia can get to animals just like people,” said Hogan.
However, despite possible animal cruelty charges, if the animal sustains injuries from the elements, the Executive Director of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society says the current law does not go far enough.
“We see some fines for having inadequate shelter, for example, unfortunately that fine is very low, it’s like a $50 fine, currently it’s cheaper to take the fine than to buy appropriate shelter,” says Brad Shear with MHHS.
Hogan says that most don’t realize they are harming their pets, which is why he always tries to speak with owners on how to properly take care of pets when the weather is bad.
“It’s 90-percent of our job is humane education,” explained Hogan.
The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society says they are working with the state legislature to get stricter punishments for leaving animals out in the cold without proper shelter.
Read the full law here:
“The applicable provision of law is Agriculture and markets law section 353-b(3)(b) that requires, inter alia, that “ . . . all dogs that are left outdoors in inclement weather [must be provided housing that has] a waterproof roof [and that is] structurally sound with insulation appropriate to local climatic conditions and sufficient to protect the dog from inclement weather . . . .” A&ML section 353-b[b] defines “inclement weather” to mean “. . . weather conditions that are likely to adversely affect the health or safety of the dog including but not limited to . . . ice, snow . . . or extreme . . . cold” ; A&ML section 353-b[c] defines “dogs that are left outdoors” to mean “. . . dogs that are outdoors in inclement weather without ready access to . . . or the ability to enter . . . any . . . permanent structure that complies with the standards [set forth in A&ML section 353-b[b], quoted above).”