New Luzerne County ordinance barring dogs left out in extreme cold may be adopted Tuesday

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | November 22nd, 2015 11:05 am

Luzerne County residents will face fines or seizure of their dogs if they leave them outside in extreme weather under a proposed ordinance up for passage on Tuesday’s county council agenda.

Recommended by the SPCA of Luzerne County, the ordinance would prohibit dogs from being kept outside unattended in two situations:

• while a National Weather Service severe weather warning is in effect.

• for more than 30 minutes if the outside temperature is below 26 degrees or above 92 degrees

When these conditions exist, dogs must be moved into temperature-controlled lodging, which could include garages or basements of a residence, the proposal says.

The definition of “outside” includes fenced-in yards or kennels.

“The dog shall be considered ‘outside’ regardless of access to an outdoor doghouse or similar structure,” the proposed ordinance says.

Dogs are considered unattended when the owner is inside a house or building on the property or has left the property, it says.

Dog owners who refuse to correct violations within a day would face the temporary seizure of their dogs and a summary violation carrying a fine up to $500, with each day of a violation treated as a separate offense.

SPCA agents and police will have authority to enforce the ordinance.

County SPCA Executive Director Todd Hevner asked county officials in September to follow the lead of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several other areas in cracking down on dogs left out in the cold.

Pennsylvania’s Anti-Cruelty Law does not address extreme temperatures, but county officials have authority to impose weather-related requirements within their borders, he said.

The SPCA regularly receives complaints about dogs left out in extreme cold and heat, he said.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.