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WARNING – You Risk A Fine For A Pet Left Outside In the Cold

You Risk A Fine For A Pet Left Outside In the Cold
Photo: F. D. Richards

When temperatures drop to single digits in Indianapolis this year and beyond, pet lovers need to do more than just keep themselves warm. They’ll have to take in their four-legged friends to escape the harsh weather too. But honestly, isn't that something that dog owners should already be doing?

According to the new law, hypothermic death to animals is now considered cruel and could attract a fine and/or land you in a doghouse.

Why was this legislation necessary?

You Risk A Fine For A Pet Left Outside In the Cold
Photo: MotoWebMistress

When winter sets in, it defines another busy period for animal control and police officers across the country. They are kept busy responding to calls from concerned citizens about pets left out in the cold. And, in worst case scenarios, some pets never survive the cold onslaught.

RELATED: DIY Cold Weather Dog House: Keep Your Dog Warm in Winter

Fortunately, thanks to the new law, pets have a reason to celebrate. The law has brought in harsher punishments for the reckless, heartless people who allow their pets to freeze to death in the agonizing cold.

Now, if you own a dog and live in Indianapolis, or in the surrounding areas, you risk being slapped with a fine and even losing your beloved pet if you are caught tethering your dog outside in the cold. The revised city ordinance prevents pet owners from leaving their pet outdoors alone in the event of the following conditions:

  • During a tornado warning
  • When temperatures drop  below 20 degrees F
  • When temperatures rise  above 90 degrees F
  • When there is  a wind chill or heat advisory
You Risk A Fine For A Pet Left Outside In the Cold
Photo: Thomas

An exception is when the animal is with the owner outside. Dog owners are not prohibited from walking their pets during these harsh weather conditions provided they don’t let them go out unaccompanied.

In situations where it is not possible to catch some of the animals and keep them indoors, pet owners need to be a little creative.  For instance, feral cats especially are often quite frightened to have people let them in.

For you to be on the safe side of the law, you need to create outdoor shelters making use of straw, plastic totes and possibly Styrofoam coolers. Dogs should also have to have access to a dump-proof shelter with walls on all sides and a roof. Besides, you need to keep shelters as high as possible above the ground to prevent the shelter from being covered in snow.

And, for the ferals (the cats), remember to cut two entrances to allow it to escape in case another animal happens to get into the shelter. According to the new law, a violation of the ordinance attracts $25 for the first offence. A repeat offender is liable to a fine of around $200 and a possibility of losing the animal.

Remember friends don’t chain friends to die in cold.

This new law also dictates that if you hear a dog howling, barking or crying for an extended period of time, or spot any other animal suffering in cold, you should call the police or Animal Care & Control center immediately.


Tiffany lives in Brooklyn, NY with her dog and two daughters. She is a Certified Animal Behaviorist, an aspiring writer about pets and a regular volunteer at several animal shelters, currently working on her first novel about human and animal relationship.