Are you leaving your pet outdoors in cold weather? These laws apply to you

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — When we’re experiencing freezing temperatures, as a reminder, it’s important to take care of your pets in this extreme weather. Especially pets who prefer to spend most of their time outdoors.

Chances are if the weather is harsh for you, it’s probably harsh for your pet, too. Even if they like to spend a lot of time outdoors, there are rules owners need to follow to make sure their pets are happy and healthy in all weather.

“We recommend that all dogs and cats be allowed in the house as often as they want to come in,” said Huntsville Animal Services Director Dr. Karen Sheppard.

She said no matter what, during every cold-weather season, animal services seizes dogs and cats from owners who are leaving them outside without proper care.

Lucky for pets living within Huntsville city limits, city ordinances about sheltering pets are much stricter than state laws. City ordinances not only say a pet has to be provided with shelter if left alone outdoors but also defines “shelter” as a structure having four sides, a roof and floor, and one side having an entrance.

Rules aren’t so strict outside the city, where state laws apply. Those laws haven’t been updated since 1975. They require a shelter, but it’s left undefined.  Which means a shelter could be a plank propped up against a shed, or a parked car.

Pets also need to have access to fresh water that can’t be tipped over at all times.

If it’s below 40 degrees or above 90 degrees and you see an animal alone outdoors without proper shelter, please report it to Huntsville Animal Services at (256)883-3788.

When a report is called in, an officer will go check it out. That officer will then talk with the owner about what needs to be fixed. On a follow-up check, the officer will decide whether the animal is being treated properly, or if it needs to be taken away.

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