Animal Welfare Laws to Protect Dogs from Extreme Weather in Utah

As summer temperatures around the country continue to rise, some states outside of Utah are creating or updating their animal welfare laws that will hopefully protect dogs left outside from the extreme weather.

Increase in temperatures

Photo by: Les Haines

After what could be called a pleasant and mild spring, summer is in full force in the Beehive State. Southern Utah has been experiencing triple digits for several weeks while the Salt Lake Valley has been seeing steady 90’s, with many days reaching 100 degrees. As residents take shelter indoors with air conditioners blasting, many dogs are left outdoors without adequate ways for keeping cool.

Getting specific

Indianapolis, Indiana just put  amended animal welfare laws into effect that requires pet owners to bring dogs inside if the temperatures reach 90 degrees and above. Their law also defines specifically what is considered adequate shelter and enclosures for dogs, especially when temperatures are rising (or falling). Some local representatives attempted to amend Utah Animal Welfare laws to protect dogs last year to specify a set degree when the pet needed to be brought inside along with other definitions. That bill failed to pass.

Animal Welfare Laws – up for interpretation

Photo by: barockschloss

Instead of setting a degree when a pet cannot be lawfully left outside to bake (or freeze), Utah animal welfare laws to protect dogs require owners to provide “adequate protection, including appropriate shelter, against extreme weather conditions;” that :[takes] into account the species, age, and physical condition of the animal’. While some dog owners may feel this is less lenient than states such as Indiana, what it does instead is allows law enforcement define what they feel is “adequate protection” and what would be considered “extreme weather conditions”. This could go both ways for Utah residents. Some Utahns may be allowed to let their pup scorch in the summer heat while others face charges for outdoor dog arrangements that would be more humane.

Working with gray areas

When charges occur due to a gray area law subject to interpretation, it is important that the person charged contacts an attorney. Proper representation could bring these gray areas to light to ensure the defendant’s actions are viewed from a majority’s moral compass and not that of a select few.


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