Dog Blog

The Dog Blog is a community of ordinary dog lovers who have come together to discuss our extraordinary dogs. Each Monday, a new topic is introduced. If you've got an opinion, share it. If not, look for the current "anything goes" topic and introduce a discussion of your own. On Fridays, weigh in about your training questions and successes.
Your host: Mike Lewis is a little-dog nerd and the proud owner of Eddie and Jillian, a pair of Yorkies who think they're huskies, and Lucy, a sweet Chessie. R.I.P., Rusty. Contact mlewis@adn.com

Parks and Rec Committee approves fenced dog park - 1/10/2013 3:33 pm

AACCC Adoption of the week: Meet Scout - 1/9/2013 12:12 pm

Kitty and K9 Connection: Meet Nano - 1/4/2013 7:04 pm

What are your New Year's resolutions for your dogs? - 1/2/2013 4:29 pm

AACCC Adoption of the Week: Meet Rudy - 1/2/2013 4:14 pm

Take extra precaution with dogs on New Year's - 12/31/2012 11:58 am

Friday training talk -- what's up with your pack? - 12/28/2012 11:09 am

AACCC Adoption of the Week: Meet Chris K - 12/27/2012 12:27 pm

Dogs left in cars in winter: Is it safe?

Missimage posted a question on the last anything-goes topic that I thought was worth further discussion:

"Is is illegal to have your dog in your car when it gets below 32 degrees? A co-worker and I were talking about this and I know a person whose dog is in her car 365 days a year. In the winter I know she has blankets and a hot water bottle but I don't know if that's enough. Any thoughts?"

I ran it by AACCC public relations coordinator Brooke Taylor, and she offered this helpful reply:

"Well, this is a difficult topic that comes up every year. There is nothing in the code regarding WHERE an animal is kept.  If we received a call about an animal in a vehicle, we would handle it the same way we would for a complaint about an animal being kept outside. We have to look at whether the shelter is "adequate", the meaning of which is very different to different people.

"From the code, whatever shelter the pet is in must include appropriate space, heat, ventilation, sanitary conditions, and shelter from wind, temperatures, precipitation and sun conditions, consistent with the animal's breed size age and species. We would consider the temperature outside, the breed of the dog, how the animal was behaving, and other factors according to this.  These types of complaints are handled on a case by case basis.

"Basically, if someone is concerned about an animal's wellbeing, they should call our dispatch line at 343-8119.  We respond to all calls we receive, so an officer would be sent out to do a welfare check and we would go from there.  The public should keep in mind though, that we have basically 6 officer positions that cover the entire municipality, from Portage to Knik River, seven days a week, from 8:30am-8:30pm. We have between 8-10 thousand cases a year.  Cases are prioritized, with APD assists and bite/attacks being top priority.  An officer may not be able to respond immediately to a call, but they will respond."

What do you think? I personally avoid it because I have an older Lab and two Yorkies, none of which is well-suited for Alaska winters. However, I know people with healthy, double-coated breeds that do this on occasion rather than leave the dog at home for extended periods. They make sure the dog has adequate bedding, they walk them several times during the day, and they make sure the water bowl isn't frozen. They also watch the temperatures and pay attention to how the dog is dealing with the cold. I've never complained about it because the dogs seem comfortable.

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