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Pet owners in Maryland face $500 fines if they leave animals outside during blizzard

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | January 20, 2016 | Comments (5)

With extremely cold temperatures sweeping into Maryland over the next several days, the Montgomery County Animal Services announced it would be enforcing their executive regulation that requires dogs to be brought inside during weather emergencies. If dog owners violate the ordinance, they could face a $500 fine.

A blizzard watch has been issued in Maryland, with up to 2 feet in snow forecast for the weekend.

The enforcement of the regulation goes into effect during periods of extreme cold, wind chill and heavy snow. Thomas Koenig, the Director of the Montgomery County Animal Services Division, says his officers will enforce a county executive regulation that states, "a person must not tether a dog under circumstances that endanger its health, safety, or well-being including: unattended tethering of the dog during a weather emergency."

Montgomery County Police Animal Services officers urged residents to bring pets indoors, even those animals that used to being outdoors. 

"Even animals that are accustomed to living outdoors can be susceptible to the dangers of cold weather. Livestock animals should have a place to get out of the wind and dry bedding should be provided to protect them from frostbite," they wrote in a press release dated January 19, 2016.

ASD Officers will be on-call, patrolling neighborhoods and responding to any animal-related emergencies during the cold snap. They said that if anyone sees an animal left outside that appears to be in danger, that they should call the Animal Services Division immediately at 301-279-8000.

I'm glad to see the authorities being diligent and making sure pet owners know that the temperatures coming will be extremely cold for any animal!

View more articles in: Community News

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Comments on this Article

Every time this kind of law is mentioned the same arguments are given that some breeds are bred for the cold. However, these do not seem to be in the majority of pets. If a dog is tethered to a dog house, he doesn't have that choice. If a dog has a dog door or access to a barn, and chooses to stay out,that is different from the majority of dogs tethered in yards or confined to pens. No animal should be outside during a weather emergency. Nor should the so called cold weather loving dogs be outside in a Maryland heat wave.We need a law to address that also, since currently no shade other than the dog house is required . Try sitting in a plastic igloo doghouse in the sun and see if that is shelter from the heat. That situation is another not addressed by laws in Anne Arundel. If people want to have pet doors or access to another heated shelter for their outdoor dog that would solve the problem. The dog could choose. I predict we will see more articles about dogs frozen to death in the coming week . I've seen 3 already today and have witnessed a neighbor's German Shepherd allowed to freeze to death in its legal doghouse. So, enough with the my dog loves the cold arguments. If so, allow the dog access to the basement through a dog door and let the rest of us rescue the dogs who will die in this weather. We need better laws because some people will never have the sense to do more than the minimum. There will always be exceptions to every rule, but right now too many dogs are freezing or suffering heat stroke to quibble over the few that can endure such extremes.
One size fits all does NOT work for dogs. The temp for a toy poodle is a lot different for the northern breeds such as the ALASKAN Malamute, the SIBERIAN Husky and the Great PYRENEES. These are all breeds that are bred to handle extremes of cold, to the point they are miserable in a heated house. They have double coats that can protect them at temps as low as -40 degrees while pulling a sled in the Antarctic. Even my shelties - from the Shetland Islands located between northern Scotland and Iceland on the edge of the artic circle - love COLD weather. Know your breed.
One size does not fit all. Use common sense with your dogs. Short haired dogs, old dogs, small dogs, should not be left outside in cold weather, but some breeds have been bred for this weather, and if acclimated, are perfectly fine in it: Huskies, some Herding dogs, Borzoi(Bred to live and hunt the tundra's of Russia), Samoyeds. With proper dog houses/insulation and fresh water and food, these dogs are fine outside, and often will not come inside because it's too darn hot. And you risk heat stroke by forcing them too.
Hi, I wish this were true in all of Maryland. Unfortunately the headline is misleading. Here in Anne Arundel County it is legal to leave you dog outside in any weather conditions. A dog house with an open door and no bedding is considered legal shelter, no matter how hot, cold windy or wet the weather may be. Perhaps naming counties where this is also the sad situation, might move someone to take a look at local laws.
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