Onondaga County Lawmakers Weigh New Law to Protect Dogs from Extreme Weather

Feb 15, 2018

Alicia Slate and Stephanie Heath of 'Cuse Pit Crew.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

It could soon be a crime in Onondaga County to leave a dog outside in rain, sleet, snow, or extreme heat or cold for any more than two hours.  County lawmakers are making changes to the proposed Adrian’s Law to protect man’s best friend.  Adrian was a pit bull that froze to death in December in Syracuse.  Legislator Chris Ryan revised language in the bill to make it simple to enforce … for any breed of dog.

"The owner who may be in violation of this law might say 'well, my dog is a cold weather dog.'  I didn't want to mired in those specifics and have someone use that as a defense.  We're saying two hours is it for a tethered dog.  Beyond that, some dogs could develop frostbite."

In addition to the two-hour limit, the measure says each day a dog is tethered in extreme weather would be a separate violation.  Violators would face 15 days in jail and $250 fines.  Stephanie Heath is with 'Cuse Pit Crew that protects pit bills and other dogs.  She says part of the problem is ignorance.

"A lot of people assume a dog can be outside for a very long period of time and be fine.  Our hope is that education is involved.  My assumption is that police are not looking forward to handing out tickets for this if it passes.  And, we're able to get the bad guys when they're leaving the dogs out over and over, and the dogs are in distress."  

Heath says a state law on animal cruelty is vague and hard to apply; She supports the current bill.  Her group hears from the public about pet mistreatment whenever the weather turns.

"As soon as it gets very hot or very cold, we get flooded with emails and calls.  We're an advocacy organization, so we can't do anything, but we can direct people and report that.  Hopefully we see law enforcement able to address that issue."

'Cuse Pit Crew will have a meeting on the bill February 21st at the DeWitt Public Library starting at 5:30.  County Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the measure in March.