The Animal Care Network urges all pet owners to allow their animals to stay inside, especially during extreme weather.
However, if people leave their pets outdoors for any length of time, they are required by Michigan state law to provide them with adequate food, water and shelter. Adequate shelter for dogs, required by Michigan State law, means a well-built, insulated, dog house. The inside should be just large enough for the dog to stand and to lie down comfortably. It should be elevated from the ground. The door should face away from prevailing winds and have a protective flap to eliminate drafts.
Clean, dry straw should be provided for bedding rather than towels, rugs or blankets, which absorb moisture and quickly freeze in frigid temperatures. A couple weeks ago the team actually found a doghouse filled with FIBERGLASS INSULATION, the owners actually thought this would keep the dog warm. They were told to remove the fiberglass immediately, clean and wipe out the dog house and it was then filled with dry straw. This could have killed the dog! Thankfully the ACN team caught this immediately and the dog had not gone into the doghouse yet.
Several types of inadequate shelter regularly encountered by ACN include an unheated garage or shed, a dog house that is too large or lacks straw, airline carriers or large cat carriers with open vent on the sides or dogs simply tied out to a porch, fence or deck with no shelter at all. A garage or shed acts almost like a walk-in cooler and the airline carriers simply fill with snow or moisture. How could a dog possibly stay warm and dry in these situations?
These laws are quite simple to adhere to, yet animal control, humane societies and rescue groups come across these situations EVERY SINGLE DAY.
If you notice dogs that do not have adequate shelter, straw or you are concerned about their welfare in this extreme weather, please call your local animal control, humane society, law enforcement or rescue group.
State of Michigan
(j) “Shelter” means adequate protection from the elements and weather conditions suitable for the age, species, and physical condition of the animal so as to maintain the animal in a state of good health. Shelter, for livestock, includes structures or natural features such as trees or topography. Shelter, for a dog, includes 1 or more of the following:
(i) The residence of the dog’s owner or other individual.
(ii) A doghouse that is an enclosed structure with a roof and of appropriate dimensions for the breed and size of the dog. The doghouse shall have dry bedding when the outdoor temperature is or is predicted to drop below freezing.
(iii) A structure, including a garage, barn, or shed, that is sufficiently insulated and ventilated to protect the dog from exposure to extreme temperatures or, if not sufficiently insulated and ventilated, contains a doghouse as provided under subparagraph (ii) that is accessible to the dog.