Woes of a Winter Wonderland

Posted by Dana Campbell, ALDF's Chief Contract Attorney on December 18, 2006

This time of year brings holiday celebrations, baked treats, and relaxing in front of a warm fire. It also brings frigid weather to animals stuck outside without proper shelter, and right now the calls for help are piling up on my desk from concerned folks in several states in the midst of a cold snap. While nearly all states have laws requiring people to provide “adequate shelter” for their animal companions, that term is rarely defined in the law, let alone enforced by local police or sheriffs.

The neighbors usually try to work with the property owner to release the animals to them or to a shelter, and then they call the local law enforcement agency, but can’t get anyone interested in responding, so they call us for help. Now my nights are spent trying to fall asleep while replaying in my head heartbreaking stories of puppies huddled on frozen mud while the weather takes its deadly toll, while those who are in a position to seize the animals and bring them to safety simply do not.

I know that our ALDF members take care of their animals as responsible guardians should. So what I want to ask today is, do you know how your neighbor’s companion animals are doing? Do they have a solid doghouse, shed, barn or other structure to retreat to where they can get out of the wind? Is there hay or some other dry bedding that they can lay on to make the most of their body heat? Is the water and food being replenished before it freezes? Are they tied out in a way that allows them to move freely? If not, have you called the police to respectfully request they enforce the animal protection laws as they do all other laws by investigating possible animal neglect? And if they refuse to act, have you contacted the local humane society and ALDF (after reviewing our website) and done all you can for those who have no voice? What are you waiting for?

Sweet dreams.

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