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Humane Society of
Wayne County, New York

1475 County House Road, Lyons, NY 14489

315.946.3389

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More than 25 years of shelter operations

This page was last modified on Sunday November 18, 2012

Give Me Shelter - It’s the Law!

In September 2003 Governor George Pataki signed into law an ACT to amend the Agriculture and Markets Law, requiring appropriate shelter for outdoor dogs. An outdoor dog as defined by this law, is a dog that is left out-of-doors in inclement weather without ready access to, or the ability to enter a permanent structure. This amendment adds a new section to the law. The purpose of this Bill is to protect dogs left outside exposed to the elements and harsh weather conditions of New York State. Moreover, this Bill reduces an outside dog’s risk of serious health problems and/or death due to exposure to weather conditions.

The Bill requires that anyone owning a dog (which means has custody of or is in control of a dog) that is left outside must provide the animal with an adequate shelter. This shelter must be appropriate to the dog’s breed, physical condition, and the climate. The shelter must have a waterproof roof, be structurally sound, and be insulated appropriate to the particular climate and weather conditions. Additionally, the shelter must allow the dog freedom of movement to make normal changes in position. Dimensions of the shelter must allow the dog the ability to stand up, turn around, and lie down with its legs outstretched. Furthermore, the shelter as well as the area surrounding the shelter must be clean and sanitary free from excretions, other waste materials, dirt, and trash. The shelter structure and immediate area surrounding the shelter must be cleaned regularly to maintain a healthy and sanitary environment and minimize health hazards. Therefore, the general appearance and health condition of the dog will be taken into consideration when an assessment is being made to determine if a dog owner is in compliance with this law.

This law went into effect on November 22, 2003. Failure to comply with this law by not providing appropriate housing for an outdoor dog can result in the imposition of a fine being levied, seizure of the dog, and possibly forfeiture.

Animal control officers and the Humane Society of Wayne County receive a large number of complaints involving dogs left out-of-doors who are exposed to the harsh weather conditions of Wayne County. Frequently these outside dogs live in dirty and unsanitary conditions. Often they develop serious health problems associated with neglect and exposure to the elements. Many of these outdoor dogs suffer and ultimately die filthy, and alone due to an untreated, perhaps unnoticed, and an often-preventable health problem. This Law allows law enforcement agencies to intervene before it is too late.

The saddest thing about an outdoor dog is that dogs are pack animals, which means they are social creatures that thrive on interaction with others. The state of Connecticut has put an end to the plight of the outdoor dog by passing a law that limits the amount of time a dog can be chained and left confined out-of-doors. I believe that it was Gandhi who said, "A civilization will be judged by the way in which it treats its animals." It makes one wonder how this civilization going to rate when we have to rely on the State to pass laws to make people provider proper care for and be responsible for their pets.