Putting More ‘Teeth’ in Extreme Weather Protections for Dogs
Harsh weather conditions like the frigid temperatures we’ve seen in CT this winter cause tremendous suffering and even death for many dogs left outside without shelter. The State’s cruelty and tethering law offers some protections but they are unclear and don’t offer enough guidance for action. CVA is advocating this session for additional safeguards and greater clarification of the statute animal control officers (ACOs) have more tools to intervene – before it’s too late.
Bi-partisan legislation sponsored by Reps. Laura Devlin (R-134) and Jennifer Leeper (D-132) would bring CT’s protective sheltering requirements in line with many other states. The bill is based on 2018 legislation that overwhelmingly passed the House but never made it to the Senate. The interest to bring it back this year stems from an incident in Fairfield that underscored the need for greater protections for dogs and clearer direction for ACOs. CVA’s Executive Director Jo-Anne Basile has been working with the representatives to fine tune the 2018 bill.
Rep Laura Devlin (R-134) Rep Jennifer Leeper (D-132)
“As someone who has advocated for the Heat Kills pet safety public awareness campaigns and a mom to two rescue dogs, I want to make sure dogs are protected from the extreme weather elements,” said Rep. Laura Devlin. No pets should be tethered for hours without shelter or water. I believe our bill stays true to the measure voted out of the House in 2018 and provides clear parameters for responsible dog owners.” Rep. Leeper added: “We believe the legislation will protect dogs during both the harsh cold as well as the sweltering days of summer. ACOs have been looking for more support in carrying out their job and we believe this bill will do just that.”
AN ACT ESTABLISHING STANDARDS FOR ADEQUACY OF DOG SHELTER DURING EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS
The legislation seeks to protect dogs during extreme weather conditions before they show visible signs of suffering and distress when it’s evident the weather poses a threat to the dog’s welfare. It requires that dogs have access to “adequate shelter” whether tethered or in the yard for more than 15 minutes. It also better defines what constitutes adequate shelter:
Adequate shelter means providing access to water, light, and space in which a dog can comfortably turn around, rest, and sit; is maintained in a manner to minimize waste, debris, moisture, and mud; and is soundly constructed, maintained in good repair, and in an upright position.
The bill also expands the current definition of “weather advisory” to include not just heat and cold, but also “direct sunlight, wind, rain, snow or hail that a person should reasonably know may pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of a dog based on size, age, physical condition, or the thickness of the dog’s hair or fur.”