A Florida bill that is up for vote in committee on Tuesday, 12/10/19, would make it a criminal offense to allow a dog to be outside and unattended when the temperature is below 32 degrees or during a severe weather advisory/warning, even if the dog is never at risk or suffers no harm.
Senate Bill 522 specifies that “a dog is considered to have been left outside and unattended if it is left in a securely fenced yard or a kennel or is tethered by use of a restraint”, regardless of whether the dog has access to an outside shelter. It is unclear how “kennel” is defined.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Immediately contact members of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and respectfully ask that they vote no on SB 522. The committee meets on 12/10/19 at 10:00 a.m. Please scroll down for contact information. The best opportunity to stop a problematic bill is while it is in committee—Florida dog owners are urged to take action today by sending emails, calling, or leaving messages.
- SB 522 would criminalize humane, accepted dog care. A dog owner who leaves their dog in a secure fence with a snug doghouse when away from home or while not attending to the dog would be guilty of animal cruelty at any time a weather advisory/warning was issued. Even if severe weather did not occur, did not affect the property where the dog is kept, or did not cause harm to the dog, the owner would commit a criminal offense.
- Temperature restrictions are not based in sound science. Dogs, like other birds and mammals, are equipped by nature to adapt to a wide variety of temperatures in both wet and dry conditions. Many dog breeds and mixes are safe and comfortable in temperatures far below an arbitrary 32-degree limit. Such temperature restrictions do not consider the needs of the individual dog.
- It results in criminal charges absent any harm—or even discomfort—to the dog. Current Florida law makes it an animal cruelty offense to fail to provide an animal with necessary shelter. Enforcement of this existing provision will protect dogs without criminalizing good dog owners.
Penalties include fines of up to $5000 and imprisonment of up to a year. A person may be charged with a separate offense for each dog. Additional penalties include prohibitions against owning or having control over any animal.
AKC believes that dogs should be provided proper care and humane treatment at all times, which includes protection from adverse or extreme weather conditions. Care provided to a dog should be appropriate for its individual needs, and not based on arbitrary temperature limits or the issuance of a weather advisory/warning in the state.
Florida Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
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Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-816-3645 for additional information.