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New Ordinance Makes it Illegal to Leave Dogs Outdoors in Bad Weather

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A new ordinance in Dane County, Wisconsin makes it illegal for a dog to be left outside, without appropriate shelter, for more than 15 minutes during inclement weather, including both extremely cold AND extremely hot days.

Lead animal control officer Patrick Comfert explained to WKOW, “That’s weather like we’re having right now, where the dog could freeze to death, [with] frostbite would suffer injury,” says Comfert. “Same thing in the summer, if it was super hot and sunny and it was going to overheat.”

Comfert and other animal control officers respond to every call they receive reporting an animal in distress. After so many calls due to dogs left outside and without adequate shelter, the ordinance was put into place. Additionally, the officers understand that certain breeds, like Huskies or Malamutes can thrive in cold, snowy weather, but insists they absolutely must still have shelter, with appropriate bedding like hay or straw, available.

Would you welcome this same ordinance in your own community?

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  1. Avatar Of Teresa



    I think it’s a great idea. However, many people are too stupid to know what bad weather is and how it affects animals. They would still leave them outside when it’s obvious to most people that it’s either too hot or too cold for animals.

  2. Avatar Of Clarence Moore

    Clarence Moore


    Connecticut has this law. Even though the local animal control knows our husky/lab loves the cold he has to enforce the law. We have someone in the area that reports us, and he has to respond,
    The law says “poses an adverse risk to the health or safety of a dog based on the dog’s breed, age or physical condition.” but some people don’t know that and report anyway.

    • Avatar Of Lisa



      My one dog, a BC/Newfie mix loves the cold too. Regardless, during really cold or really hot weather, she gets the same 10 – 15 minutes my other pup, a GSD, gets. While she will happily go outside and roll around in the snow, she accepts when I say it’s time to come in. We play outside for a while. We play inside. She isn’t unhappy and I don’t have to worry about the pads of her feet getting frost bitten by keeping her inside with our family where she belongs.

  3. Avatar Of Sandy



    I think it’s a great ordinance!
    As far as the 15 minute intervals I don’t see a problem with that there’s a lot that can happen in those 15 minutes if it’s bitterly cold or very very hot!
    I think 15 minutes is basically pertaining to dogs being out in the yard alone not with their owners–and if you can’t let your animals be indoor pets, why have them at all–leaving them outside regardless, even chained, I would think, that the owner doesn’t really care for them at all, unless they live on a farm and have adequate shelter and free range which means no tying up–

  4. Avatar Of Kim Verbeke

    Kim Verbeke


    Every living thing has to be loved and helped!

  5. Avatar Of Tom Tom says:

    Poor wolves and coyotes. We need a law allowing them into homeless shelters.

  6. Avatar Of Andrew



    Common sense, people. I have a Saint Bernard and he loves this weather but you can’t just leave him outside 24/7 with no shelter. He wants to be protected from the rain, snow and excessive sun just as any other animal. When he wants to come in he barks once and we’ll let him in. If he wants to stay outside we monitor him. Again, common sense. Like keeping him fed and watered, shots up to date, etc.

  7. Avatar Of Amy



    I think this is a stupid law. Many breeds of dog enjoy being outside in cold weather and they don’t need shelter because they are indoor dogs. Why shouldn’t an indoor dog be allowed to enjoy her yard for more than 15 minutes at a time when it’s cold outside and why should an owner have to worry that some nosy neighbour will decide it’s a problem and call animal control? And yes I get that there are many people who neglect their dogs and that is a problem, but to impose a limit of 15 minutes of outdoor time seems pretty draconian to me.

    • Avatar Of Lisa



      It takes minutes for a dog to get hypothermia and frostbite. Obviously that time varies based on size, breed, etc., but it still doesn’t take long enough that someone can justify leaving their dogs outside in the freezing cold for 45 minutes.

  8. Avatar Of Mike



    The DNR should round up all the animals in the woods and give them proper shelter.

    • Avatar Of Robert



      They have dens and the pack to stay warm. Chain a wolf to your house and he would suffer. There is a difference.

  9. Avatar Of Khaibitu Khaibitu says:

    Not all breeds need to be inside, in fact, some prefer staying outside in frigid temperatures and are made for it. Just another example of government overreach and people not having anything better to do than stick their noses in other people’s business. Everything is NOT abuse or neglect, but as usual, those who know little to nothing about animals supporting ignorant “feel good” laws don’t realize they’re also supporting THEIR rights being taken away.
    Yes, of course be aware of the needs of YOUR animals, and IF there’s actual and FACTUAL abuse and neglect, okay, but otherwise, live and let live. Use common sense, please.

  10. Avatar Of Jjgross



    Great ordinance but there is no “Madison County” in Wisconsin. Madison is in Dane County, WI. Google is your friend. 😉

  11. Avatar Of Sue sue says:

    I am so happy to here about this ordinance.They need this in all states.I moved here to Alabama 2 yrs ago and my heart goes out to see how these jackasses leave their dogs running loose.why have animals.They just drop off dogs in back of stores or in parking lots.Something needs to be done .

  12. Avatar Of Paula



    Absolutely! We need them everywhere! If it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pet. A vet said it is like YOU going outside barefoot. Think of the pain you feel when your extremities, ears, nose etc. get cold. Frostbite in a pet is a real possibility and freezing to death as well. They have fur, you have a coat………would you still want to stay outside?

  13. Avatar Of Pg Christine

    PG Christine


    It’s a step, but it’s not enough. Just because a dog has a doghouse, or lean-to does not mean he’s not COLD! Imagine, if you will, being in your home, with four walls, carpeting and probably insulation, but NO HEAT, and the front door left wide open. Wouldn’t you be cold? Well, so is your dog. Most dog houses have one side wide open for the dog to go in and out. Even with straw or a blanket, it’s COLD in there! In bad weather your dog belongs INDOORS… with his family.

    • Avatar Of Donna Evans

      Donna Evans


      Well said but pets belong indoors with their family everyday. ..regardless what the temperature is outside!

  14. Avatar Of Reine Nefertari

    Reine Nefertari


    Yes it is a MUST! But keep being alert as some people do not care about breaking the law or not…

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