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The holiday season is upon us. For most of us, that means Christmas carols, presents, delicious food and lots of family time. But for dogs who live outdoors, the coming of the holidays just means cold weather, freezing snow and long, dark nights outside.
Many people wrongly believe that animals are better able to withstand cold weather because they have “fur coats.” This is actually not true.
Their fur might provide more warmth than a human’s skin does, but think of it this way: If you had a coat on, but you still had to sit on the wet, freezing ground for 24 hours a day, your coat would do very little to protect you from the ice-cold winter.
That is why Pennsylvania has passed a law this year that regulates the length of time a dog can be kept outside in extreme weather. The law (known as Libre’s Law) states that dogs cannot be tied up outside for more than 30 minutes if the weather is below 32 degrees (or if the weather is above 90 degrees).
People who break Libre’s Law will face a fine and potentially even jail time, a sentence of 6 to 12 months.
In speaking on the new law, Jennifer Nields, cruelty officer for the Lancaster County Animal Coalition, had this to say: “This won’t stop cruelty but it will put an emphasis on the importance of justice for their suffering. The laws are recognition of their pain and what they deserve.”
Libre’s Law was named after a puppy who was rescued from a horrific situation in southern Lancaster County. He was just 7 weeks old, but his short life had clearly been filled with nothing but cruelty and neglect. Animal rescue workers were very doubtful he would survive, even with the immediate and comprehensive medical care he received once a Good Samaritan tipped officials off to the puppy’s terrible situation.
However, thanks to the love, tenderness, and compassion of the staff at Speranza Animal Rescue, Libre lived…and flourished. He is now the face of this important advocacy work for animals’ rights, and of this law, which the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association calls an “incredible victory for animals.”
Here’s hoping that we start treating these crimes against animals with the swift and serious punishment they deserve. And, remember: If you leave your pup outside in the cold for any length of time, they need a dog house where they can retreat from the weather, preferably a shelter that is lifted off the ground, like the one pictured below, which you can find on Amazon. (This will help to provide some insulation, as the freezing cold ground can sap warmth from the body quickly.)
Consider using heating lamps and heated pet pads, as well as plenty of blankets.
But whenever possible, bring those animals inside, even if it’s just into your garage. Let’s make sure that the coming of winter doesn’t mean suffering and pain for these vulnerable creatures.
[h/t: Good Housekeeping]