State law protects animals left in cold

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – As the temperatures dip below zero, pet owners need to take extra steps to make sure their pets are safe. Not doing so could result in time behind bars.

In Indiana, leaving a dog or cat outside exposed to excessive cold if the animal is not provided with straw or another means of protection from the cold, is against the law, regardless of whether the animal is restrained or kept in a kennel. According to Veterinarian Sandra Norman, depending on the situation, determining neglect could be a challenge.

“Because animal control is not mandated in this state and it’s up to local government it’s whoever they dictate. If they feel it warrants a charge, it’s up to the prosecutor to file charges,” said Norman.

That is where animal control officers like Josh Klumpe step in and make the call. Klumpe says he has responded to between 20 to 30 complaints about animals being left out in the elements. No animals have reportedly died due to neglect in cold weather. Klumpe says charges all depend on the situation.

“If it’s to a point where the owner is not willing to take proper steps to take care of it, or if the dog is in such bad shape that it needs to be taken away to have veterinary care, that’s when we’ll step in and charge criminal charges for neglect and abuse,” said Klumpe.

Most of the time animal control officers avoid charges just by educating owners on proper care.

“It is a lot of just making people understand what is expected of them as a pet owner,” said Klempe.

Dr. Norman said it is all about common sense.

“I just need to emphasize to people just use common sense. If it’s really, really cold then sometimes even your outside dog may need to be moved inside to protect them from the elements,” said Norman.

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