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It’s illegal to leave dogs outside in extreme cold without adequate shelter

With Texas’ first deep freeze of the year, THLN is reminding Texans it is illegal to leave dogs unattended outside in freezing temperatures and educating the public on what to do if they come across a dog outside in the freezing weather. “We are strongly advising all pet owners to keep pets inside during the upcoming winter weather that’s slated to hit the whole state,” said Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of THLN. “The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act passed in 2021 requires dogs left outside to be safe from the elements. During Winter Storm Uri of 2021, our hotline was inundated with calls from concerned citizens about dogs left outside in the freezing weather – hundreds of which died.”
“The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act strikes the 24-hour waiting period so that law enforcement can address critical situations immediately to prevent tragedy,” said Jamey Cantrell, President of the Texas Animal Control Association. “If you see a dog left outside in below-freezing weather without adequate shelter, please call your local animal control. To report animal cruelty, please call 911.”
“Extreme weather, such as the freezing temperatures that are about to hit Texas, does not allow outdoor animals to become acclimated,” said Melissa Draper, a Texas shelter veterinarian. “Studies have shown that it takes 10 to 20 days for animals to acclimate to cold weather and up to 60 days for full acclimatization. The safest option for pets is to bring them inside.”
“Owners of chickens, horses, and other equines or livestock should ensure the animals’ enclosures are properly secured and insulated. Outside shelter is best lined with straw instead of blankets, as blankets are likely to freeze and make their shelter colder. The best way to protect all animals in these weather conditions is to prepare as early as possible,” concluded Bobosky.
The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, which went into effect January 2022, establishes basic standards of outdoor shelter and care for the safety of animals and their surrounding communities by

  • Defining adequate shelter to protect dogs from extreme temperatures, inclement weather, and standing water. Previously, there was no definition for shelter, thus tethered dogs routinely perished from exposure.
  • Requiring access to drinkable water. Before the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, state law did not include this vital requirement.
  • Requiring safe restraints. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act strikes the use of chains. Other means of restraint, such as cable tie-outs, may be used so long as they are correctly attached to a collar or harness designed to restrain a dog.

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