Dog in snow

BROOKVILLE — Pennsylvania’s winter season has arrived. With that in mind, local professionals are reminding people to bring their pets inside — or ensure, at least, that they stay warm.

A doghouse needs to be just as warm as a person’s house, says Jefferson County Humane Officer Debbie McAndrew.

As of August of last year, Pennsylvania law lists special circumstances in which “the tethering of an unattended dog outdoors may create rebuttable presumption that the dog has been neglected.” The law states a dog can’t be tied outside in temperatures under 32 degrees for more than 30 minutes.

“If your dog, for whatever reason, is an outdoor dog, then basically you want to make sure that the doghouse is the ‘Taj Mahal’ of all doghouses — air tight, with some kind of flap over the door, so that wind does not come in,” McAndrew said.

She also suggests clean, dry straw, rather than towels, hay or blankets, since those articles hold moisture, while straw has a minimal chance of freezing. Pet owners should also have a heated water bowl, or a water bucket that is secured to the doghouse and can’t be tipped over. Those can purchased at places like Tractor Supply.

“The water is now a mandatory requirement under the law,” she said. “The law now states there must be water available at all times.”

If the temperature drops below 30 degrees, though, the dog needs to be brought out of the cold, whether it’s into a garage or basement, McAndrew says.

“The new law is that the animal cannot be tied out for more than nine hours in a 24-hour period,” she said.

People often argue that their dog has “always been an outdoor dog,” when it comes to certain breeds like a Husky, McAndrew says, or an older dog that has never been inside and doesn’t want to be.

“The new anti-tethering laws pertain to a dog that is tied, not a dog that is in a wire kennel where it has freedom to move and access within that kennel,” she said.

This law has been in effect for more than a year, McAndrew says, so there are no longer “warnings” given in Jefferson County if a dog is outside in temperatures under 32 degrees, before action is taken.

“Dogs that live outdoors should be like any other animal — they stock up their fat reserves through the fall as winter comes, so no dog outdoors should be thin this time of year,” she said.

People also have no excuse when it comes to providing adequate shelter for an outdoor dog, McAndrew says, since Willow Run Sanctuary of Brookville can provide straw donations to the public.

“I have 10 bales of straw available to give people, if they need help.”

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