Dear Homeward Bound: Is it OK for dogs to live outside in winter?

Dear Homeward Bound,

It’s starting to get cold and I’m worried about my neighbor’s dog. He seems to live outside and I don’t know if that’s okay in the winter.

Curious (and worried)

Dear Curious and Worried,

Thanks for caring about your neighbor’s dog. Unfortunately it is not against the law for a dog to live outside 24/7 in Vermont, but there are requirements about the kind of doghouse there has to be.

Furthermore, if the temperature is below 50 degrees, certain kinds of dogs have to be brought inside. According to state statutes, these include: dogs that are not acclimated to the temperatures prevalent in the area or region where they are maintained; dogs that cannot tolerate the prevalent temperatures of the area without stress or discomfort; and sick or infirm dogs or dogs that cannot regulate their own body temperature. Furthermore, metal barrels, cars, refrigerators, freezers, and similar objects shall not be used as a shelter structure for a dog maintained in an outdoor enclosure (13 V.S.A. § 365).

If you think that your neighbor’s dog should not be outside during certain kinds of weather, you can call your town’s animal control officer and ask her or him to speak to the dog’s owner.

Jessica Danyow

Homeward Bound

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100