CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Humane officers have brought in dozens of dogs suffering outside in frigid temperatures for hours.
The Cleveland Animal Protective League rescued 15 dogs from cold conditions Thursday and responded to at least 31 cold-related calls Friday.
Officers did not issue any citations Friday, instead educating owners who agreed to bring their animals inside in all cases, according to APL President and CEO Sharon Harvey.
“Most of our calls are dog calls, left out in backyards or chained out in backyards without appropriate shelter, with frozen water and no food,” she said.
State and local law requires animal owners to provide adequate protection from weather, shelter, food and water, Harvey said.
Officers with the Cleveland Division of Animal Care and Control have been enforcing the city’s anti-tethering ordinance and seized 20 dogs in the last week.
“We've been extremely busy responding to call of animals left out in the elements,” Chief Animal Control Officer Ed Jamison said.
Animal control officers responded to a Collinwood home Friday night, finding a dog that had been tethered outside for hours, with its food bowl empty and water bowl frozen over.
“With our ordinance, no matter what the weather is, a dog's not allowed to be tethered outside when someone's not home,” Jamison said. “There are restrictions for when and how long an animal can be tethered outside any time of the year.”
With no one home, officers said they had no choice other than to impound the dog, leaving the owners a notice of the violation. The owners could potentially be cited.
“People have two options: They can bring the animal in, and if they won't bring the animal in or they're not home, we are impounding the animal,” Jamison said. “It doesn't take long for the animal to freeze when the weather gets like this, and if you truly do love your animal, you need to get it inside.”
Harvey said the preference is always to educate pet owners, but that’s not always possible.
“If we can help fix the situation first through education, that's always our first choice, but if an owner doesn't comply and isn't home, and an animal is clearly suffering from being out in the cold inappropriately, then we will impound those animals,” she said.
She said most cold weather cases do not fall under Goddard's Law, which stiffened penalties for animal abuse, since that law required proof that someone intentionally or knowingly acted to cause serious harm, and that can be difficult in these cases.
You can report concerns about animals left out in the cold to your local APL or humane society.