This happens everywhere that has four seasons and people who love dogs. The question arises: are pet owners capable of adequately protecting their pets from inclement weather, and what are the consequences if they are not? We know that in some states, it's legal for good samaritans to break car windows to rescue abandoned dogs in the summer sun. Maine law only allows law enforcement to take any necessary measures to save pets and does not protect good samaritans in the event of breaking a car window. Pennsylvania recently passed law stating that anyone who left their dogs outside in the cold for too long would be subject to fine and potential jail time.

While it's been a long time coming for a law to be on the books about owners neglecting their animals outside in the winter, many are questioning the threshold for "too long" and "too cold" to be too conservative. The new law states that any owner found leaving their dog outside for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures below 32 degrees would be subject to up to 7 years in jail and a $15,000 fine.

As an owner of a Bernese Mountain Dog who drags me through the snow for multiple hours on end in single digit temperatures, I can't say I'm shocked about the controversy regarding their definition.


What do you think? Will Maine follow suit? Currently, Maine law states that:

"... a shelter must be provided ... to accommodate the dog and protect it from the weather and, in particular, from severe cold. Inadequate shelter may be indicated by the shivering of the dog due to cold weather for a continuous period of 10 minutes or by symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia. A metal barrel is not adequate shelter for a dog."

Basically, if your dog can handle it, you're good. I'm not surprised my perpetually fur-covered house wolf has to be dragged inside from sub-zero temps; she was born for them; however, I'd be appalled to learn that someone leaves their naked chihuahua outside when they go to work in Maine's infamously harsh winters. Currently, it's up to the owner to determine what their pet is capable of withstanding. Will there come a time that Maine has to define specifics that all pet-owners but abide by? Would you support such legislature?

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