Dear Porky & Buddy,
Is it true that New York has a statute requiring that dogs have good shelters? The reason I am asking is that my neighbor has a Siberian Husky tied out to his front porch and the only shelter she gets is to crawl under the porch. I tried talking to her about it, but she got all huffy and told me to mind my own business. I am worried about this dog. I know they are cold hardy dogs and like to be outside, but the other night it was only 8 degrees! Is there anything I can do?
We have answered questions about this before, but it is important, especially in this kind of weather, so we don’t mind repeating ourselves a little.
Section 353-b of the New York Agriculture & Markets Law requires that if your dog spends any time outdoors, you must provide shelter to protect the dog from direct sunlight, rain, snow, wind, cold weather, hot weather, and other inclement conditions. The shelter must be waterproof, appropriately insulated, and it must allow the dog to move around freely.
The dog must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down. It has to be constructed in a way that allows for effective removal of waste material, dirt, and trash and the area surrounding the shelter and the shelter itself must be regularly cleaned.
Obviously, a full grown Siberian Husky needs less in the way of such shelter than say, a Chihuahua, and the statute specifies that the shelter provided must be appropriate for the dog’s breed and physical condition. But still, under the porch won’t do; an old plastic barrel won’t do; old packing crate set on bare dirt won’t do; the area underneath an abandoned vehicle won’t do.
For a first offense fines can range from $500 to $100.
For a second or any subsequent offense, fines can range from $100 to $250.
Once 72 hours have passed after a violation has been charged, each new day the violation is not remedied constitutes a new violation. With payment of the fine, the owner must also provide proof that a proper shelter has been obtained.
A dog may be seized by law enforcement officers based on violation of this section.
So if you see a dog in dire straits such as this you can start by calling your local dog control officer and ask that he or she intervene.
DCO’s don’t have law enforcement powers, generally, but they know what satisfies the statute and what does not and they know when it is appropriate to call in law enforcement.
If that approach doesn’t work for some reason, you can call 911 to report the violation yourself.
Remember that if you call 911 you can’t report anonymously. You have to be willing to give your name as a witness to what you saw. But that doesn’t seem like to much to ask to protect a dog in trouble.
You may be past this point with your neighbor, but another approach, depending on how well you know her, might be just to talk to her again to see if she needs any help with finding or building a doghouse.
The Oswego County Humane Society sometimes has donated dog houses that it can lend to a dog owner on a temporary basis until a permanent fix is available.
So call us at 207-1070 if that is an option that you want to pursue.
It depends on the situation of course but sometimes neighborliness is more effective than law enforcement.
Good luck and thanks for your concern!
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.
Phone (315) 207-1070.
Because people and pets are good for each other!