Do you ever wonder how cruel owners can get away with leaving their pets outside? Even to those who might see Southern California weather as typically mellow, there are certainly nights when we humans wouldn't want to sleep outside -- so why are our pets forced to endure frigid bone-chilling temperatures in a barren wasteland of a yard? The same goes for hot summer days where dogs are left outside in scalding heat. On 12/19/15, I called Animal Services at East Valley to report two dogs left outside near a friend's house. The temperature was in the low 30°s ; wind and frost advisories were in effect for the valley and inland area. Even with a heavy coat, I was freezing. It was clear that the dogs were cold and agitated by the wind as well, as they kept barking. The Animal Services Officer showed no remorse. She said, "There are no laws against owners who leave their dogs outside in the cold." I said, "These two dogs only have ONE rickety doghouse for two dogs. If these people can't bear to bring these dogs inside their home, why not have them stay in the garage or a shed?" She repeated, "Ma'am, there's not a law against leaving animals in the yard - even if it's cold, and I'm not going to force someone to put their dogs in a garage or a shed!"
California Penal Code § 597 (b), a state provision against animal cruelty, states the following: "Providing Proper Shelter: Anyone who fails to provide proper shelter or protection from the weather for their animal is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony and may be fined up to $20,000 or imprisoned." But this law is clearly not properly acknowledged or enforced. When it comes to proper shelter for outdoor pets in harsh weather conditions, law enforcement agencies and Animal Services officers are continually turning a deaf ear and a blind eye. When the nightly news urges people to bring their animals inside, many pet owners continue to leave dogs in their backyards to brave the bitter elements without a proper shelter. We may not have the harsh winters of the East Coast and Midwest, but dogs are domestic animals, and they do get cold. Wolves, foxes and coyotes have different body chemistry and when it gets too cold, their fur thickens. Dogs, especially short-haired ones (Pitbulls, Chihuahuas, Dobermans, Greyhounds, et al) do in fact get very cold because they lack the undercoat that their wild cousins can grow.
We can no longer tolerate this type of abuse, and we demand tougher animal welfare laws to be enforced in extreme weather conditions - and in ALL areas of California, and even in Los Angeles -- specifically remote communities. This must become a combined effort starting with watchful eyes of regular citizens! Our State officials and Governor Brown must listen to our concerns about owners who refuse to understand that dogs get cold and hot! We must make it illegal to keep dogs outside during harsh weather conditions. We'd like to propose a new, more specific law or provision to the existing law that insists on the following: (1) Bring dog/s inside the house when it's windy, rainy especially night temperatures below 40° with wind, frost, flash flood advisory (2) If owners refuse to share their living space, they must allow dog/s to sleep inside the garage or a shed 3) Doghouses above the ground, or located in the porch must be provided, with straws for bedding, protective flap, and big enough for a dog to stand or lie down. If owner has more than one dog, the doghouse should be bigger depending on the number of dogs. The City and/or Animal Services inspectors must approve measurement, capacity and insulation. Owner has the option to build the shed or go through a vendor that knows the requirement mandated by the Animal Services and the City.
Dogs do not have the ability to speak and tell us they are cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, so we must lend our voice to those unloved dogs that have no choice but to live in someone's yard. We must convince decision-makers to enforce stricter weather laws with hefty citations!