Should Charlotte require people to bring their dogs inside during cold weather?

Should Charlotte require people to bring their dogs inside during cold weather?
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This story was originally published in March 2017 and updated in January 2018.

How cold is too cold for a dog to be outside?

As temperatures plunge into the teens this week, Charlotte’s animal control unit is reminding people to make sure their pets can stay warm.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department uses the freezing mark as a guideline. Below 32 degrees, they’re recommending that people bring their outdoor pets inside.

If that’s not possible, CMPD says to make sure the pet has proper bedding or straw — and to change it regularly to keep it dry. Also, make sure water bowls don’t freeze over.

What laws or ordinances regulate this in Charlotte?

Charlotte has a pretty broad animal ordinance that requires pet owners to provide “adequate shelter” that provides “reasonable protection” from heat, cold or precipitation.

If a complaint comes in, Animal Care and Control officers will respond and inspect the animal’s living conditions. They’ll then talk to the pet owner and follow up to make sure any needed changes are made.

If you think you see an animal in an unsafe condition, you’re asked to call 311.

Some people want the city to go farther than that.

A local service dog trainer lobbied the city in early 2017 to draft an ordinance that would require dog owners to bring their pets inside when it is unusually hot or cold or rainy.

Amy Wayman spoke to the captain with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control division to discuss potential changes to animal ordinances that would protect pets during severe weather.

She told the police that she was prompted to propose the changes after seeing a neighbor’s puppy left outside in what she described as “extreme cold” in a dog house that was too big to keep the dog warm.

Charlie Loveluck

Under her proposal, dogs would be required to be brought inside if the temperature falls below 32 degrees or rises above 90 degrees.

Animal Care and Control said that its animal ordinance is general enough to allow officers to protect pets in unusual circumstances. The department also said that the ordinance Wayman proposed would be unfair to people who do not have air conditioning in their home or homeless people.

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