Winter weather is approaching, and all our officers at the Animal Services and Enforcement department are busy doing welfare checks to make sure animals have proper shelter from the winter weather, including the cold, wind, and snow. Are you in compliance? Keep in mind these points that the Animal Services and Enforcement officers check when doing a welfare check for adequate shelter:

  • Is it a proper shelter, and does it provide protection from the weather?
  • Is the shelter structurally sound? Is it completely surrounded on three sides and have a properly sized entryway on the fourth? Does it have a leak-proof roof? Does the shelter have a floor or base to prevent the ground from coming into direct contact with the animal? Is the entryway appropriate to keep the heat inside?
  • Is the shelter insulated? Tarps and canvas don’t provide the necessary insulation from the cold.
  • Is the shelter permanent? A picnic table or a car is not adequate shelter! Shelters should resemble dog houses or other similar structures.
  • Is the shelter accessible? If the animal is on a chain, it is required to have “convenient access” to the shelter. It should be able to get inside and not get tangled.
  • Is the shelter the right size? A properly sized shelter means the animal should be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down. If it’s too large, it’s not going to maintain adequate ambient temperature.
  • Is the shelter clean and wholesome? While animals generally don’t waste in their shelters, make sure excrement is removed as soon as possible to avoid making their home dirty.
  • Does the shelter provide adequate resources? For example, water freezes when the temperature drops. Dogs that are outside need a heated water bowl so they always have access to clean water.

There’s an old myth that dogs don’t feel the cold, or that breeds like Huskies and Malamutes don’t need shelters because they like the cold. While it’s true that some dogs might choose to stay outside in the cold, it’s legally (and ethically) required to give them that choice and to provide a shelter. If an Animal Services and Enforcement Officer doesn’t see one available for your pet, expect to hear a knock at your door.

And when in doubt, just bring them inside. Pets are our family, after all.