Residents Can Face Fines, Jail for Leaving Pets Outside

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CLEVELAND -- Leaving a pet tied up outside in brutally cold weather isn’t just inhumane; it’s also illegal in some cities.

Monday, as arctic air rushed into Northeast Ohio, animal control officers began responding to reports of dogs left outside in the cold without proper protection.

“They’re [calls] all consistent of there being a dog left outside, either tied up or in the backyard with no shelter,” said Cleveland Chief Animal Control Officer John Baird.

Baird said it’s a good time to remind people of a “tethering” ordinance in Cleveland that prohibits pets from being left outside and restrained in severe weather.

According to Baird, Municipal Code 603.092 states that, “You can’t tie your dog outside when you’re not at home or there’s a National Weather Advisory, which is what we’re experiencing.”

A tether refers to any “rope, chain, cord, dog run, pulley or similar restraint” that holds an animal in place.

Baird says most animals just can’t survive the current subzero temperatures and punishing wind chills.

Far too often, dogs and cats are found frozen to death.

“We find them, they’re all hunched up in a corner or trying to get under a car and that’s where they’ve unfortunately died,” said Baird.

If an animal freezes to death, Baird says the owner or caretaker will most likely be charged with Animal Cruelty.

According to Ohio’s Revised Code, Animal Cruelty is a misdemeanor of the first degree on a first offense and a felony of the fifth degree on each subsequent offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 fine.

The first violation of Cleveland’s tethering ordinance is a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not more than $150.  It’s a 4th degree misdemeanor on the second offense, punishable by not more than a $250 fine and 30 days in jail.

The third offense and any subsequent offenses are 1st degree misdemeanors, punishable by not more than a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail.

Animal control officers will be on call 24/7 and are prepared to respond to any reports of animals left outside in the cold unprotected.  Chief Baird recommends people report the abuse to their local police department or by calling their local Animal Control officers.


  • Pat Fogo

    I have had NUMEROUS private messages to my personal fb page as well as our page; Justice For Herbie, the Abused Lorain, Ohio Dog regarding animals abandoned in the cold. I have reports of DEAD dogs in yards, dogs outside without adequate protection and no feed or water. My contacts have called police, sheriffs and animal
    Protection Agencies. We get authorities who do not bother to go out or who slap a call back note on the door but never bother to look at the dog in distress in the back yard. This negligence is rampant in the state of Ohio. Fox 8, want to contact me? Ask Dick Goddard for my phone number.
    Pat Fogo
    Pooch Patrol founder
    Justice For Herbie, the Abused Lorain, Ohio Dog creator
    Animal Advocate
    And self proclaimed “Crazy Dog Lady”

    • Nichole Seni

      I completely agree. Humane or APL officers are supposed to do their jobs. I don’t understand how they can just slap a note on a door and walk away knowing the temperatures and knowing what the dogs are going through. They need to take in better consideration.. and try to help the dogs that are out there suffering because their owners are stupid.

      • cristina

        /;I agree they need to reinforce the laws –with fines ;that is the only way people will become responsible for their pets-this is nationwide.

    • tammy

      What is number to call for Lorain county if you see your neighbor leaving thier dogs out in cold or for to long?

  • Carlie

    Amazing comment Pat Fogo! I am seeing the same stories all over facebook. Dogs tied up, animal wardens don’t care enough to check. Or just slap a note on the door. Dogs frozen to death…and the ‘fines’ that are given are few and VERY far between and laughable! $150? That’s a speeding ticket! These are dogs with SOULS….come on people…keeping them tied up in this? You couldn’t even walk a block in it. Get real. At least let it go…give it a fighting chance.

  • Tara Martin

    How could someone be so careless, I just don’t get it. I’m letting my dog out for only 10 minutes in this frigid cold to do his business and wrapping him in a blanket to warm him up afterwards. Dogs are suppose to be mans best friend!!!

  • cristina

    There was a problem not long ago before Christmas up in Ohio of a dog left outside in the snow I called up there plus I contacted the humane society they can help — just do something if you care for the dog –there is help in this cold weather and up there north you all are worse then us- please repot something will be done if the owner don’t want the dog in can release the dog to the humane societies–some people aren’t civilized –plus they don’t want to be -but if a police man or an animal control official show up they will start learning

    I the case we had ..he didn’t even had and address just the name of the town that I was told was rural–anyway with all the fuss the rescue went up fro TN to Ohio to get the dog before she wanted too .. but law she had to ..
    so please do something .. make a few phone calls before is to late after all they better be at a government shelter at risk of getting killed then out and suffer in the freezing cold .. at times death is the best to get out of a tormentors life especially for a dog that doesn’t have any control over his life — and needs to depend from no civilized humans

  • Tonya Lambert

    What about the 15, literally, I’ve counted, stray cats in my neighborhood? This summer they were running around on the street and in my yard, there are a couple of people who feed them, but there is no where warm. If I call the humane society, I have to pay $25 to drop them off and if I call the animal warden, they have so many cats already the won’t come get them. I can’t bring them inside as we have allergies to cats and other animals I would be afraid would get ill, but there should be someone, an agency, or something to take care of them. They didn’t ask to be put on the streets.

    • Kelli

      Thank you for mentioning the feral/stray cats out in this cold. They sadly seemed to get overlooked. Are there any organizations in your area who help with feral cats or TNR (Trap Neuter Return) programs? You can find people in your area on Alley Cat Allies website,
      They also provide tips on caring for outside cats in various weather conditions. One simple suggestion to providing shelter is to take a Rubbermaid type storage container with a lid. Using a utility knife, cut a small hole in the side just big enough for the cat to get in and out of. (Two holes, one across from the other is even better, as it allows an escape route from predators). Using a blow dryer to heat the area first makes cutting easier. Fill it with straw (not hay or blankets) and put bricks underneath or find a way for it to be off of the ground. There are more things you can do but this method costs very little and is quick and easy.
      Thank you for caring.

    • L

      You can make shelter with straw, Rubbermaid containers, foam cooler and blankets. Google it. Also look into cat trapping. Some rescues will spay/neuter for free if you bring in a stray cat. One of a kind pets in akron does this. It will help the stay cat population in your neighborhood.

  • Ed

    who is held accountable for the homeless left out in the cold with no shelter? Opps didn’t mean to bring that up better shove that under the rug. Poor cats and dogs.

    • cristina

      to Suzanne Stratford-Suzanne – do you want to confront a homeless human with a dog ?That doesn’t make sense to me to me a dog is consider as a child .. he can just care for himself to a certain point –the homeless –I am not much familiar for those cases, they puzzle me in the sense that I had a roof over my head at all times -it wasn’t give it to me I am mentally stable and not an addict -or a left out of jail -and willing to work at time not the way I would have like it but I did adapt
      Some people they deserve to be homeless–dogs no ..

      • Beenthere Donethat

        Not all homeless are addicts, mentally unstable, ex-cons, or unwilling to work. By saying that your roof was not given to you is not quite true either. There are situations that sometimes goes beyond a person’s ability to manage. You probably stayed with your parents or caregivers until you were able to afford a place to stay. You were probably given a chance to either rent or buy at a rate that your income could handle. You were lucky. That is not always the case for everyone. What about those who suddenly found themselves without a job and didn’t have some family or friends to help them back on their feet. What about those who took a sudden turn in health without having someone to help them through it. It becomes a downward spiral once you become homeless. In some states, if you are 10 days, yes merely ten days, late on rent, you are evicted by the 30th. Try to find another place, when you are generally expected to come up with the first and last month as a deposit, if you were struggle to pay for the one month? And what do you do about your job? Many people live paycheck to paycheck. They don’t necessarily have all of the goodies, like cable and cigarettes, etc. They probably have a phone or some type as “extra”. Also, let’s say that you do find a place that will take you without the extra deposit, you will be paying a premium for it and it will probably be some guy that doesn’t take care of the place, so you might be without heat or have water leaks with the mold growing. Let’s not mention the fire hazards. These people get lumped with all of the others. Once you’re in the situation, how easy is it to get a job? What happens when one of your co-workers discovered that you don’t have a place? This is all of course provided that your health situation doesn’t get worse from the lack of things. Also, don’t expect the government to help you. They have certain criteria of the people they want to keep trapped in the system. After all, they need clients to keep their jobs. Spoken from a former insider. Each homeless person got there different ways and each have a major struggle to overcome it. Have you ever thought that maybe the mental health issues came from the situation that cause them to become homeless or it may have been able to be controlled better, if they did not have to suffer from being less than human? The people who generally can get out of it are those who are good actors and can be very resourceful with little. Finding that dress in the trash at the flea market. Already having a talent with computers. Being willing to work the long hours being paid a lot less than what you’re worth. Using that experience to find another job that is not looking too close at you through temp agencies. Finally getting that break to go from temp to perm. Working your way up from a lowly clerk to professional. In the meantime, sleeping in your car or finding a spot on someone’s floor, washing up in a public bathroom or getting to work early where they might have showers. Trying to save up the money for a place that you will probably use to fix the car, so you can keep working. Or buy a cheap pair of slacks, because you need to dress business formal. What do you do about food? You don’t have a place to keep it cold unless it is freezing outside, so dollar menu here we come. This is the reality of those homeless that may not have the benefit of getting into a shelter. The shelters can only take so many, and they are generally segregated by gender. Also, the times that you need to be in line for a place to sleep at night is fairly early, so it makes it difficult to keep a job as well.Let’s truly be reasonable about the plight of the homeless. They don’t deserve it anymore than you deserve what you have. It is merely thedifferences in opportunities and the disasters that separates what they have and you have,

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