Keep All Animals Indoors
In Texas, there are laws that make it illegal to leave a pet outside in extreme weather without adequate shelter, food, and water. Some cities also have specific ordinances to protect pets in extreme weather conditions.
Bottom line, if it’s too cold outside for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet as well. Texans who were scarred from the horrific freeze that happened in February 2021, are now hoping to prepare for themselves and their pets ahead of extreme conditions.
“[The THLN] hotline has been swamped with calls as the temperatures have dropped… We have received many reports of freezing and dying dogs throughout the state and especially in West Texas.”Executive Director, Shelby Bobosky was mentioned last year in a response to the winter weather. Read more here.
Consider these Cold Weather Pet Safety Pointers:
Think & Thump
- A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor animals. Check underneath your car, thump your hood and ensure no furry feline is underneath.
Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit
- Prepare an emergency/disaster kit for yourself and your pet. Include enough food, water, and medication to last for at least 5 days. If you need help assembling a “Go Bag” for your pet, check out our resource guide on Disaster Planning for Pets.
Clean Your Pet’s Paws
- Clean the pads of your pet’s paws after walking on sidewalks or roads to remove irritating salt.
Help Stray Animals
- If you are able, consider providing shelter for stray cats in your neighborhood.
Help Your Short-Haired Pals
- Consider a sweater or coat for short-haired dogs and cats.
How Cold Is too Cold?
Just because they sport a fluffy fur coat year-round, doesn’t mean they’re immune to the cold! If YOU’RE cold during the winter season, your pet probably is too.
But how cold is too cold for our animal-pals? Depending on the size and breed, the answer may differ. Take a look at this chart for reference.
Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals:
Under Texas Penal Code 42.092, a person commits cruelty to a non-livestock animal if he or she fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter; abandons an animal in their custody; confines or transports an animal in a cruel manner, injures someone else’s animal, or overworks an animal.
Leaving an animal outside in freezing temps would violate multiple sections of this law. Cruelty to a non-livestock animal is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. If the conviction is a third offense, it is a state jail felony, punishable by up to 2 years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.
City Ordinance Violations:
Many cities do not allow pet owners to leave their dogs outside when winter weather advisories in place.
Unlawful Restraint of a Dog:
Under the new Texas law – Texas Health & Safety Code 821.101 – a pet owner “may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint unless the owner provides the dog access to adequate shelter, a sturdy structure that provides the dog protection from inclement weather (including rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, extreme low temperatures, or extreme high temperatures).
Unlawful restraint of a dog is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine, unless the owner has a previous conviction in which case it is elevated to a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to $180 days in jail and a $2000 fine.
For more information on the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act or resources on the law’s enforcement, head to: https://www.thln.org/a_brand_new_day
What to do if you see violations of these laws and ordinances?
We strongly recommend reporting any violations to your local law enforcement, animal control officers, or animal shelters. We also advise to thoroughly document any abuse or neglect in order to provide law enforcement the evidence they need when making a report.
We appreciate your support and concern to keep animals safe during the storm!