We must keep dogs safe during extremely cold weather.

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At present it is -9C and I have just, once again witnessed a dog chained in the backyard of a house nearby. I have no idea how long it has been out but every time I pass by, there it is, barking, jumping and straining at the it's chain. Being a short hair dog, wearing no protection, with it's obviously extremely agitated and aggressive behavior, I am sure it is in considerable discomfort.

I have contacted the police and the humane society who both paid the owner a visit. Besides checking the dog, and trying to counsel the owner, as you can see from the humane societies response, there is nothing, even  in this extreme cold snap to prevent the owner from keeping the animal outside for up to four hours at a time.  

From the Humane Society: "It is important to remember that what people should do is different from what they must do under the law. We can provide education on the importance of bringing dogs inside in this weather, but neither provincial nor Windsor municipal law prohibit leaving your dog outside in the cold provided certain conditions are met. Those conditions include an insulated dog house, fresh water, and adequate body condition - all of which this dog has. When the legal minimums are being met we do not have any authority to take someone’s dog away.

There is a municipal bylaw in Windsor that prohibits leaving a dog tethered for more than 4 hours a day. However, the penalty for breaking the by-law is a fine - there is no provision to remove the animal. Our officers have educated the owner about the by-law, and are actively following up to ensure that the limit is complied with. The owner has advised our officers that he is in the process of finishing his fence, which will eliminate the need to tether the dog at all. It’s important to note that once the fence is built, there is no law stopping the owner from leaving the dog outside 24 hours a day if he wants to, given that the legal minimums for an insulated shelter, etc are already being met.

I understand that this situation is upsetting to see. Our protection officers and I also have dogs who dislike being outside in this cold, and can’t imagine wanting to leave them outside for hours. But we can only enforce the laws our governments have passed, not the ones we would like to see. Regardless of if there is one complaint from you, or 10 complaints from people who contact me because you ask them to, we still can only enforce the laws that exist."                                                               

The signers of this petition are requesting that this issue be placed on the agenda of the next council meeting, with an immediate debate and vote  undertaken to amend the bylaw with the provision that when the temperature falls to extreme levels (1) A dog cannot be kept out for longer then 15 minutes. (2) With the provision that the humane society can remove the dog from it's owner if he or she is in violation.

Leaving a pet to suffer in a locked car in the heat of the summer is not allowed, with citizens and first res ponders freely breaking  the car windows to save the animal if necessary. Yet, when a dog is left to suffer in the extreme cold the law prohibits the police, the humane society and citizens from taking direct action to help the animal. It makes no sense that dogs are protected from extreme heat while there seems to be no protection given to them for extreme cold. This must change!    



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