MASON, MI (WLNS) – In Ingham County, a Mason woman finds a stray dog in the middle of the road, in below-freezing temperatures.
Unfortunately, this is just one of the many concerns that occur in the middle of winter, and this raises the question, what laws protect your furry friends?
“I can’t believe as a pet owner that somebody wouldn’t want to take care of their animal more closely and love it”, Heather Lawless said with tears in her eyes after she found this brown lab on the side of the road in Mason.
‘It was just so cold and he got in the car and he was just shivering” Lawless.
With temperatures below freezing, animal control officials want pet owners to know, animals have rights too.
“Like this weekend when we are supposed to be sub-zero it’s going to take a matter of ten fifteen minutes and then you’ll have frozen water, not appropriate you know, then it’s a violations of the law, you have to have thawed water.” Livingston County director, Andy Seltz said.
According to Andy Seltz four legged creatures are protected by Michigan’s Cruelty and Neglect law section 750.50, where animals are required to have adequate food, water and shelter.
In Livingston County both cats, dogs, and livestock are required to have an enclosed space that fits the animals size. But in Ingham County the ordinance goes even further, and protects dogs from staying outside for too long.
“There is a law that if, your dog is going to be outside for more than 15 minutes they need to have an outdoor structure. Usually that would be a dog house…we recommend facing it out of the wind so there’s not wind going inside and you want to have something in there for them to burrow into.” Ashley Hayes of Ingham County animal control said.
“Shelter which provides them protection. Not just a roof, not just one side, we are talking a dog house.” Seltz said.
According to Hayes a common mistake owners make, is putting a blanket in their animal’s outdoor house. But once that’s gotten wet, the effects could be deadly.
“Basically once it thaws out and it refreezes, it just kind of turns into a dog laying in a sheet of ice, so we recommend using something like straw that they can burrow in but doesn’t freeze.” Hayes said.
And while all these laws apply throughout the year, good Samaritan Heather Lawless states it’s about doing what’s right.
“Don’t leave your pet outside in the cold, I mean you wouldn’t want to be left in the cold so why would you do it to a poor innocent animal” Lawless said as she pet the chocolate lab.
The Ingham County Animal Shelter is giving out free dog houses and straw.
And if you don’t have a place for your pets to stay warm, you better consider taking them up on it, the charges of animal neglect range from a misdemeanor to felony.