Newsflash: it’s winter, it’s cold and it might snow.
Dateline — Greenwich, Conn. As I write this, the East Coast is bracing for a weekend snow storm. And if the media is to be believed, this will be a storm of epic proportions – especially in the mid-Atlantic states.
Here in the greater New York City suburbs, some meteorologists are actually showing some restraint. They say we will only get 4 to 7 inches where I live and more further to the south and west. I’ll take it — but I must confess that I’ll be much happier if this nor’easter is a total dud. I’d really rather not spend my birthday shoveling snow, especially since I’ll officially be one step closer to the big “5-0.”
But all joking aside, the arrival of winter and all of the unpleasantness that it entails raises serious concerns for pet owners, animal lovers and those of us who are also interested in the law as it relates to the health and safety of dogs and cats.
To that end, local and national news outlets publish tons of stories about caring for companion animals during this time of year. One article that recently caught my attention was about a proposed change to existing rules in Ohio. According to the article on nbc4i.com, state lawmakers are considering proposed legislation requiring pet owners to bring their dogs inside in “extreme weather conditions.” Under current laws, people are allowed to leave healthy dogs outdoors as long as they provide adequate shelter.
Connecticut law also mandates that animals have access to acceptable “protection from the weather.” Anyone who fails to provide it may be charged with cruelty to animals. The penalty upon conviction is a maximum fine of $250, up to one year in jail, or both.
In New York, there are comprehensive rules about what constitutes appropriate shelter for “dogs left outdoors” and the penalties for failing to provide it. Perpetrators face fines ranging from $50 to $100 for the first offense, and $100 to $250 for the second and each ensuing offense. Under the law, violators have a set period of time to bring the standard to acceptable standards. Failure to take necessary action within that period can result in another violation.
Personally, I think it boils down to compassion and common sense. Please use both.