As the temperature rises above 90 degrees, ensuring our four-legged companions are kept cool and safe is essential. Their fur coats have shed during these hotter months, but they still have a lot of insulation. Someone who underestimates how hot their pet can get in these elevated temperatures might find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
According to PA Statute 5532 of Title 18, Act 10, it is unlawful to have a pet tethered outdoors unless it’s provided with a sanitary shelter that keeps them dry and regulates their normal body temperature. If you intend to tie your dog outside while you attend to some household chores, it is important to note that the leash must be three times the size of the dog, secured to a standard vinyl collar/vest, and the tethered area must be clear of any debris. Dogs must be provided with food, water, and shade and can be tethered for up to nine hours per day. However, dogs should spend no more than 30 minutes outside at a time if the temperature is above 90 degrees. Although, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends smaller dogs spend no longer than 10-15 minutes outside in extreme temperatures. Pennsylvania does not restrict the amount of time dogs can spend safely contained while untethered.
Those who do not abide by these laws can find themselves guilty of either:
- Neglect: A summary offense carrying either a 90-day sentence and/or a $300 fine or a third-degree misdemeanor (if the animal is placed at risk or bodily injured) with a hefty fine of $2,000 and/or a one-year jail sentence.
- Cruelty: A second-degree misdemeanor carrying up to two years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
- Aggravated Cruelty: A felony of the third degree carrying up to seven years of jail time and/or a fine of $15,000.
Those who are found guilty of a felony violation will forfeit the abused animal to a shelter.
If you suspect someone of animal cruelty, the Humane Society suggests calling your local animal control agency as soon as possible. If you do not know their number, you can also dial 9-1-1.
Dogs are our best friends. They loyally protect us, and it’s our responsibility to do the same for them.
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