MACC reminds dog owners of laws about pets being outside in cold

Middle TN

If you are a Metro dog owner, did you know you might be breaking the law? 

With temperatures dipping into the freezing range, Metro Animal Care and Control want to remind everyone what the rules are for your pet being outside in these frigid temps. 

To educate people and help keep animals safe, MACC responds to a lot of calls where dogs are outside. 

Wednesday morning, animal control officers responded to a home in north Nashville.  

At the time of the visit, it’s 35 degrees, and two dogs were in the backyard on tethers. One of the dogs was tangled around the back stairs.  

According to MACC, if it is freezing or below, and your dog is on a tether, then you are in violation of Metro Code.  

Dogs can be outside in freezing temperatures, but they have to be roaming free, in a fenced, secured yard, or pen that is at least 10 x 10. 

On this morning, the officers met with the owner who admitted she didn’t know the law as it pertains to cold weather and keeping pets. 

Ashley Harrington with MACC says this is a very typical scenario.    

“Fairly often, that is a big part of our job to educate the public.” 

The officers entered the back yard and the first thing they did was untangle the dog.  

“Tangling is a violation, we educated her and helped her untangle it and she will move the location the dog is tethered so it is free, we will do a follow-up tomorrow. to make sure she did do that.” 

The good news here; the dogs have food and water and dog houses, but the dogs need more insulation to stay warm. 

“We gave her some straw for bedding, she has some there, they need more insulation in the provided shelter,” said Harrington.  

Metro will stay on top of this case, right now it is only a warning to educate. 

Metro animal control suggests bringing pets inside when temperatures reach dangerously cold levels. 

But if they are outside, they cannot be on a tether once temps drop below 32 degrees. Metro ordinance requires puppies less than six months old and pregnant or nursing dogs must be brought inside. 

Winter weather can be dangerous to our outdoor pets. It’s important to be aware of the risks that can come with the colder temperatures, and make sure to keep your pets safe!  

Metro Animal Care and Control offer the following safety tips to keep your pet safe and comfortable in the cold weather:  

  1. Make sure your pet always has access to water. Especially if you have any pets living outside, it’s important to make sure that their water source doesn’t freeze over. You may have to change water bowls more often or bring outdoor pets inside when it gets too cold.

  2. Antifreeze, Ethylene Glycol, is poisonous to pets. Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste that attracts many animals. Make sure to always clean up any leaks from your car. If you think your pet may have been exposed to this potentially deadly substance, call your veterinarian or poison control center.

  3. Don’t leave your pet outdoors unattended. If your pet does go outdoors, make sure they are wearing their ID tags. Pets can become disoriented outdoors, especially during snow storms. They may become lost and confused as to how to find their way back home. Cats left outdoors will often hide in potentially dangerous locations, such as inside car hoods. Before starting your car, bang on the hood to scare off any animals that might be hiding inside.

  4. Check your pet’s paws for ice and road salt. Clean your pet’s paws after a walk outside, or have your pet wear boots while outside. Pieces of ice can cut your pet’s paws, and some types of salts used to melt ice on streets and sidewalks can burn your pet’s paws and is also toxic if ingested.

  5. Give your pet a place to stay warm. Make sure your pet has a comfy bed somewhere in the house where they can go to relax and keep warm. This should be away from windows and doors, where drafts can occur.

  6. Monitor your pet’s diet. Especially if your pet is active, they may spend more calories in the colder months than they would if it were warmer. Animals bodies expend energy to keep warm in the cold. You may need to increase your pets daily amount of food to compensate for this.

  7. Remember that extreme temperatures may be harder on pets that are very young or very old. Adjust your winter care of your pet accordingly. Pay special attention to your pet if it is young or elderly, as the cold weather may be especially uncomfortable for them. For pets in these age groups, limit time outside.

  8. Make sure to monitor any medical conditions your pet might have. Just like with humans, pets may be more likely to get sick in the colder months. If your pet has a medical condition, make sure to monitor it closely in the winter time. The cold weather can lower your pets immune system, as well as aggravate chronic conditions such as arthritis.

  9. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself/herself.

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