Putnam SPCA Reminds Owners of Laws About Dogs Outdoors

Call 24-hour hotline to confidentially report animal cruelty

Due to the many calls that the Putnam County SPCA has recently responded to regarding dogs left outside in the cold, we would like to remind dog owners of their responsibilities under the law. The New York State Agriculture and Markets Law states that in order for a dog to be left outside it must meet ALL of the following conditions:

  • The shelter provided must be appropriate for the dog’s breed, physical condition and climate. This means that a wooden doghouse, plastic igloo, or similar type of shelter is not appropriate during freezing and below freezing conditions for shorthair breeds (beagles, pit bulls, Chihuahuas, etc.). This also means an older dog or a dog with a medical condition, such as arthritis, cannot be left outside in freezing and below freezing temperatures. “Physical condition” shall include any special medical needs of a dog due to disease, illness, injury, age or breed about which the owner or person with custody or control of the dog should reasonably be aware.
  • “Dogs that are left outdoors” shall mean dogs that are outdoors in inclement weather (“Inclement weather” shall mean weather conditions that are likely to adversely affect the health or safety of the dog, including but not limited to rain, sleet, ice, snow, wind, or extreme heat and cold) without ready access to, or the ability to enter, a house, apartment building, office building, or any other permanent structure that complies with the following standards. For all dogs that are left outdoors in inclement weather, a housing facility, which must (1) have a waterproof roof; (2) be structurally sound with insulation appropriate to local climatic conditions and sufficient to protect the dog from inclement weather; (3) be constructed to allow each dog adequate freedom of movement to make normal postural adjustments, including the ability to stand up, turn around and lie down with its limbs outstretched; and (4) allow for effective removal of excretions, other waste material, dirt and trash. The housing facility and the area immediately surrounding it shall be regularly cleaned to maintain a healthy and sanitary environment and to minimize health hazards.
  • Inadequate shelter may be indicated by the appearance of the housing facility itself, including but not limited to, size, structural soundness, evidence of crowding within the housing facility, healthful environment in the area immediately surrounding such facility, or by the appearance or physical condition of the dog.

Also, please keep in mind that dogs must be supplied with water at all times. A water bowl that is filled with ice does not meet this requirement. If your shelter does not meet the above requirements or if your dog is not breed-, age, physical/medical-appropriate, then you must keep it inside during inclement weather. This also applies to when it is too cold for the water bowl to contain water in its liquid state.

Owning a dog is a responsibility. Please take it seriously, especially when the temperatures drop. To report animal cruelty/animal crimes, the public can contact the Putnam County SPCA at their 24-hour animal cruelty hotline at 845-520-6915 or through the website spcaputnam.org. All calls will be kept confidential.

The Putnam County SPCA is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation which receives no funding from any government agency or the ASPCA. Their mission is to prevent cruelty to all animals by enforcing the New York state cruelty statutes by their countywide, humane law enforcement department, providing medical care and shelter to abused animals and providing humane education to schools and other interested groups. They exist solely on donations of supporters who care about animals and how they are treated. Given law enforcement powers by the state of New York, the Putnam County SPCA responds to calls of suspected animal cruelty throughout Putnam County.