Humane society setting stricter rules for pets during arctic blast

January 30, 2019

The Somerset County Humane Society has issued a “code blue” requiring all pets to be brought indoors with negative wind chills in the forecast.

The code blue will be in effect from 6 a.m. Wednesday until 10 a.m. Friday. Dogs are only allowed to be outside long enough to relieve themselves, or about 10 minutes.

Humane Officer Liesa Collier said that even dogs that are outside under normal circumstances, such as those in kennels, need to come inside. Those who violate the warning could face removal of pets and possibly jail time.

“Normally, they would not have to be brought inside as long as they are in a kennel with adequate shelter, sanitary conditions and fresh water,” she said.

Under Libre’s Law, which was signed into law in 2017, dogs in Pennsylvania cannot be tethered outside for more than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Collier said she is averaging about 60 calls a month. About 80 percent of those calls are about dogs being kept outside.

“During the initial visit we give them an opportunity to fix the violation if there is an issue,” she said.

She said she hands out information about the laws, and many people are unaware of the regulations.

“I’ve had a very positive response from the community on compliance,” she said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said that animals kept in below-freezing temperatures are susceptible to hypothermia, which can result in frostbite in their extremities and life-threatening respiratory conditions and decreased heart rates. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, lethargy, low heart rate and unresponsiveness.

Temperatures in Somerset are expected to fall to around zero Wednesday afternoon, with wind chills approaching 23 below, according to the National Weather Service.

To report an animal left outside, call 911, humane society officials said. They also ask people to call the shelter at 814-443-2121 during normal business hours or the humane officer directly at 814-279-8993.

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