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Clarification of rules regarding outside pets

The past two winters were so mild that we haven’t had to deal with the dangers that snow and ice present to our pets. Whether your pets live outside or just go outside, here are a few things of which you should be aware. We’ll start with the most vulnerable which are animals that, due to some form of confinement, cannot seek shelter on their own.

There’s still a lot of confusion about the changes in the laws pertaining to tethering dogs and what is considered proper shelter for them.

Our police departments, who are now in charge of investigating reports of cruelty or neglect to animals, have been overwhelmed with calls about dogs exposed to inclement conditions so we should clarify when a report is in order.

The law itself is a bit confusing because it is different for dogs on a tether as opposed to those in properly sized pens. All outside dogs though, must have proper shelter. Housing must be large enough for the dog to sit up without touching the ceiling, turn around easily and lay on his side with legs fully extended. It should be as close as possible to that exact size, as anything larger will hamper their ability to retain heat. The house must also be in good repair, upright, have a floor, be dry and clear of debris. A thick layer of straw is the best bedding because it is water and mildew resistant. A wind flap is also essential in allowing the dogs body heat to keep the house at a comfortable temperature.

Here’s where the confusion comes in. Dogs on a tether, regardless of weather or proper shelter, cannot be tied out between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., but dogs in proper pens or free roaming can be out as long as their shelter meets the aforementioned requirements.

I can only guess that this was a compromise to get the new laws passed and that we will probably see a push for banning tethers altogether at a later date.

Outdoor cats, although not generally confined, should still be provided with warm, dry shelter. This is actually very easy to accomplish because of their size. Cats love to crawl into small spaces, they can make themselves quite cozy in something as simple as an insulated cooler with a six-inch hole cut out for access.

There are plenty of do it yourself tips online, just google “shelters for outside cats” and you’ll find ideas and plans for easily constructed housing. Again, straw is the recommended bedding for inside the shelter.

Finally, for those of you that walk your dogs in and around your neighborhoods, please be aware of de-icing chemicals used on sidewalks and streets. It’s best to rinse your dog’s paws after their walks, or at the very least, wipe them with thoroughly with a warm, wet cloth.

Shelter needs: Canned dog food, cat litter, large bully sticks, cat nip, canned chicken and tuna, paper towels, cream cheese, and gift cards for pet supply and grocery outlets.

To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit

Source: South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: Clarification of rules regarding outside pets

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