Pet owners could face fines, jail time for leaving dogs outside in cold

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Shelters are warning dog owners about a new law as temperatures turn colder. It’s under the cold weather portion of Libre’s Law. People who violate it could wind up with a fine and jail time.

Leaders at the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter say you can now get in big trouble if you leave your dog outside in freezing temperatures without adequate shelter for more than 30 minutes.

“Your doghouse that you have should keep them dry. If it rains and that freezes, that’s awful. Please make sure that they can get out of the elements and they can get into the dog house and not actually be rained on. Have it raised off the ground if you can,” said Jennifer Vanderau, communications director for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter.

“There have been animals that are actually frozen to the ground,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania director of the Humane Society of the United States.

Tullo has seen the effects of dogs being left out in the cold.

“The animals are coming in because of damage to their paws and because of bleeding paws and because of frostbite, hypothermia, and even death in situations,” said Tullo.

“We have a lot of concerned citizens in the area,” Vanderau said.

Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter’s cruelty officer gets calls about animals outside in freezing weather. Now the shelter will be able to do something about it thanks to the cold weather portion of Libre’s Law.

Penalties range from a $50 to $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail for a summary offense. Dog owners could get up to a $15,000 fine and seven years in prison for a third-degree felony. The punishment depends on the condition of the dog as well as if the animal cruelty officer finds neglect or abuse.

“This is a monumental change for those dogs that were just left out tied to a tree basically a lawn ornament at that point,” Tullo said.

You can contact your county humane officer if you see a dog left outside in the cold. Eight Pennsylvania counties don’t have humane officers. Tullo says you should get in touch with your local or state police department if that’s the case.

To read the bill, click here.

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