Pennsylvania State Police troopers responded to reports of multiple dogs left out in the frigid cold last week, citing individuals for animal cruelty.
In one case, a property had four dogs and only two dog houses, leaving two dogs unable to access shelter. A third dog was found frozen to the bare floor of his dog house.
The owner of the dog that froze to death, Ronald Eugene Haines, 46, was charged with animal cruelty after this pet was found in a dog house behind his home in Curtin Township.
And those were just the cases we heard about from one county - Centre County - during this recent deep freeze.
In Lancaster city two puppies left to die in a backpack in the frigid cold were rescued by a Good Samaritan. In Pittsburgh the city's three shelters took in seven dogs and seven cats removed from owners who kept them outside with inadequate shelter, the Post-Gazette reported.
With the string of alarming news came calls from the public and newspaper editorials to toughen cruelty laws that now allow dogs to be kept outside in sub-freezing temperatures and offer little in the way of penalties..
Now, one of the legislature's leading animal advocates says he wants to see the General Assembly take action to better protect pets in extreme temperature conditions..
"In the wake of the animal-cruelty arrest in Centre County, the close call for the two puppies in Lancaster City, and the fact that we have plenty of weather winter ahead of us, I urge the strictest enforcement of current animal cruelty laws that require the protection of animals against inclement weather and cold, wet conditions," Dinniman said. "These incidents also make clear the need for the General Assembly to better define our animal cruelty laws in terms of when our pets must be brought in from extreme temperatures. Senator Alloway's Senate Bill 522 would bring such specificity to our animal-cruelty laws, and that's why I support the bill."
But Alloway's bill would not ban 24/7 tethering; it only establishes that a dog may not be left out on a chain when the termperature is above 90 degrees or below 32 degrees. It does not address dogs left in yards or in pens.
A municipality in York County may take the next step and bar anyone from leaveing their dogs outside in extreme temperatures. The borough of West York council is scheduled to vote on a propsal to ban round-the-clock tethering and restrict outdoor exposure
So far six of 73 municipalties have adopted a dog tethering ordinance drafted by the York County SPCA.“
“This ordinance would not only talk about tethering, but it would also talk about a dog outside in a kennel if there were severe weather conditions such as a weather advisory, or temperatures as well. If the temperatures would drop below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees consistently then the dog would have to be taken inside,” said York County SPCA director Melissa Smith told Fox 43. “In a situation where we had last week with the dangerous temperatures, that is a time where we would make immediately the dog come inside,"
West York is scheduled to vote on the measure on Monday January 20.