New statewide law in NJ: Don’t leave your pets out in the cold
A new law signed by Gov. Chris Christie aimed at protecting pets left out in the cold — or the extreme heat — has not seen much enforcement yet thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures.
However, with cold temperatures settling over the state this week, Roseann Trezza, executive director of the Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park, said she expects her organization and others to start responding to more calls soon.
"The thing is, we haven't been getting any phone calls about animals being left out in this weather, which has been very brutal over the past few days," she said. "[The law] may have had some impact, although this was much needed anyway because people still leave their dogs out."
While some people might consider it common sense to not leave animals out in the cold for extended periods of time, Trezza said the law is a good way of making sure as many animals stay safe as possible.
"People still leave them outside, or in little dog houses that are half buried in mud. It's just not a good situation and many people don't adhere to it," she said. "It's just getting somebody to make that phone call to us or to the SPCA to say something should be done. People should not leave their dogs out in this kind of weather without any protection."
According to the law, "adverse environmental conditions" include temperatures of 32 degrees or below or "other cold weather or precipitation-related environmental conditions." That can include wind, snow, rain, ice, sleet or hail. It can also be applied when the temperature rises above 90 degrees.
The law states that the animals cannot be exposed to these types of conditions for more than 30 minutes "unless the animal has continuous access to proper shelter." The law also requires that when an evacuation order is issued, people responsible for the animals "shall make every effort to evacuate with the animal, and shall not leave the animal indoors or outdoors while unattended and tethered."
The law carries a $100 fine for a first offense, and a $200 fine for a second offense. Trezza said it will likely be up to the local municipalities to enforce the law, but that her organization will help with whatever it can.
"If somebody wants to call us and let us know that their neighbor is leaving their dog out in all hours without any protection or no food or water, call us," she said. "We keep your name confidential or they can call their local police department or their county SPCA or state SPCA."