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Politics & Government

Legislation Aims to Protect Pets from Extreme Cold, Heat

If it’s too cold for you outside, then it’s too cold for your pet.

That’s the message Councilwoman Darlene Harris is sending Pittsburghers with the two pieces of legislation she introduced Tuesday.

The first piece of legislation would fine cat and dog owners a maximum of $500 dollars for leaving their pets outside for a long period of time when temperatures are below 32 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.

“You are not to leave an animal out more than 30 minutes,” Harris said. “Also, that it needs to have fresh water and food at all times whether it be…summer or winter.”

The bill defines “outside” as a kennel or a dog house.

If an owner ties up a dog outside, the legislation also calls for the rope or tether to measure at least three times the length of the dog and no less than ten feet long.

Harris said this bill stemmed from a call she received last year – and others similar to it – in which a resident in Lawrenceville contacted her about a dog that was left outside on a second story porch.

The resident tried calling 911, but no one came out, so Harris contacted the local firefighters who picked up the dog and took it to the Animal Rescue League.

“They said that if we wouldn’t have got the dog off that porch that evening – no one was home – that the dog would have died,” Harris said. “No food, no water, no covering – just out on the porch with no one home.”

Harris plans to monitor the wellbeing of pets using concerned neighbors.

“[The caller] made sure that that animal was taken care of,” Harris said. “And I believe we have a lot of good neighbors out there that love animals and are willing to make sure they’re taken care of – even if their owners aren’t taking care of them.”

The other piece of legislation requires dog houses to be moisture-proof and windproof and made of durable material.  They must also be stocked with bedding such as straw or cedar shavings.

It also lays out regulations for the size of the “house” – the depth should be 12 inches more than the dog’s length, the width 18 inches more and the height three to nine inches more than the dog’s height.  Violations of this bill would also result in a maximum $500 fine.

“We just want to make sure that animals are taken care of when it’s bitter cold out or they have shade in the summertime, also, and are not left out in the heat because animals do not sweat,” Harris said.

Harris said to report a pet being left outside too long, residents can call animal control, 911 or if all else fails – her.

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