Laws Requiring Shelter for Animals

2020 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings

Select an animal law category to view trends:

Shelter Requirements for Animals (2020)

◼︎Shelter Dogs and Cats
◼︎Necessary / Proper Shelter
◼︎Necessary to Maintain Animal’s Health
◼︎Shelter & Detailed Requirement for Dogs
◼︎Detailed Requirements for Most Animals

From state to state, there is a vast difference between what kind and quality of shelter guardians must provide to their animals. Three states—Kentucky, Nebraska and New Mexico—do not have any law requiring guardians to provide shelter for their animals. Four others only require guardians to provide shelter to dogs and cats. Nine states have statutes requiring “necessary” or “proper” shelter, but do not define what that entails. Twelve states require that guardians provide animals with shelter that is necessary to maintain the health of the animal, usually specific to the breed, species, and age of the animal. This extra level of specificity makes it easier for shelter laws to be enforced, and better protects species like reptiles who often have very specific environmental needs. Twenty-two states, and the District of Columbia, have laws that go beyond merely requiring shelter. These states include additional requirements, such as ventilation, sanitation, space, windbreaks, or bedding. Unfortunately, in six of those twenty-one states, those additional requirements only apply to dogs and cats. In 2020, four states—Iowa, Washington, Vermont and Virginia—strengthened their shelter laws to provide greater levels of specificity.

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