Pittsburgh councilwoman proposes rules for protecting dogs from extreme weather
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris last winter called the fire department to rescue a dog left outside on a second-floor porch in bitter-cold weather.
Harris of Spring Hill plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that would penalize dog owners with a maximum $500 fine for leaving animals outside in a similar situation.
“The dog was left on the porch without water, without food, without anything, and nobody was home,” Harris said. “The Animal Rescue League said he would have died if we wouldn’t have gotten him that night.”
Harris’ bill would prohibit city residents from leaving dogs tied outside unattended for longer than 30 minutes when temperatures are lower than 32 or higher than 90.
It sets minimum standards for dog houses. They would have to be at least 12 inches longer and 18 inches wider than the animal’s length and allow 9 inches of head room.
The bill would require adequate food, water and shade as well as insulating bedding such as straw or cedar shavings in dog houses.
Several large home improvement stores in the region sell dog houses that start at less than $100 for a plastic or wooden shelter and increase to more than $500 for more elaborate models, according to their websites.
Online retailer Hayneedle.com offers a log cabin dog house with a thermostat-controlled electric furnace for $235.75 to “Keep your pup warm and cozy during cold winter months.”
Janice Barnard, the Animal Rescue League’s program director, said most pets are at risk when left outside during extreme weather because they cannot easily adjust to temperature changes.
The organization kept its Larimer clinic and shelter open 24 hours during last winter’s coldest days for animals abandoned outside, she said, and treated 18 dogs for weather-related ailments including frostbite.
“It’s better to keep them inside when the temperature gets really cold and when it gets very hot,” Barnard said.
Harris said the dog rescued from the Lawrenceville house survived and was adopted. The owners, she said, lived in another state and could not be found.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or [email protected].