Pets left out in cold could lead to charges and fines in Ohio

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Experts are putting out their yearly reminder to bring your pets inside

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As temperatures are expected to drop into the teens over the weekend, experts are putting out their yearly reminder to bring your pets inside.

If you can’t bring animals indoors, make sure they have proper shelter to weather the cold. There could be legal consequences on both the state and local level if you don’t.

Mahoning County Dog Warden Dianne Fry said a basement, garage or covered porch is better than being outside.

“Make sure it has the capability to stay out of the wind and cold with straw or blankets as long as those blankets don’t get wet. Unfrozen water and food give that dog half a chance,” Fry said.

Fry says it’s also important to understand your dog’s breed as some can withstand the cold for longer periods of time.

“But like a Pitbull, that dog doesn’t have an undercoat. They are all muscle. It’s very difficult for those dogs to stay warm,” she said.

Fry says the dog warden’s office and the Humane Society get a lot of calls about concerns for animals left outside. They do investigate every call, but can’t always help. In the state of Ohio, pets are considered property.

“We can’t just go and take someone’s property. We have to be respectful of the laws and the community,” Fry said.

Ohio law limits the amount of time pets, such as dogs, cats, or livestock can be kept outside.
And you don’t have to be a humane officer to take action to prevent animal suffering or death.
Ohio Revised Code 1717.13 allows any person to rescue an animal that has been confined for more than 15 hours without food or water.

On a local level, Youngstown City Ordinances 505.07 and 505.071 protect animals from being left in the cold or deprived of anything necessary for survival.

Violations of both the state and local laws are second-degree misdemeanors, which could mean fines and jail time.

“Especially during these weather events, you need to be a lot more aware of what’s going on with your dog if you’re going to house that dog outside,” Fry said.

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