This will be the first winter when a new state animal cruelty law, called Libre's Law, will be put to the test.
As it pertains to cold weather, dogs may not spend more than nine hours tethered in a 24-hour period. The maximum time limit dogs can be left outside when temperatures are below freezing is 30 minutes.
Libre's Law went into effect over the summer, another time of year when dogs need to be protected from extreme temperatures. The same 30-minute rule applies when temperatures are above 90 degrees.
“First of all, we have to make them aware. People are like, whoa, what? We didn't know that. So we have to give them, first of all, the education -- make them aware and then we have to give them time to make changes and improvements,” Leisa Collier, a Fayette County humane officer, said.
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If your dog is going to be outside in the winter, Collier has the following suggestions regarding dog houses:
- Make sure it's insulated and off the ground so the cold and moisture don't seep in
- Place straw inside to help dogs stay warm
- Ensure the dog house has a built-in flap
“One of the key components to any dog house is the door. Let's face it, if you left your door open in your house, it's going to get cold. Even with the furnace on, it's gonna get cold. So a dog inside a dog house without a flap is like furnace in your house with the door wide open,” Collier said.
A kennel with tarps and a roof is also a way to protect dogs from the cold.
Resources are available to dog owners to help keep pets safe.
Once such resource is called By the Grace of Dog Community Outreach and Rescue, which serves Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette and Greene counties.
By the Grace of Dog primarily works with people who chain their dogs by providing what it calls lifesaving supplies.
“We offer them free stuff, free straw. We'll give you a bag of food. We'll help you with a dog box. But let us educate you,” Collier, who volunteers with By the Grace of Dog, said.
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