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New DC Laws Prohibit Animals Left Outside Longer Than 15 Minutes with Temps Below Freezing

New Law Also Defines Adequate Shelter for Animals Kept Outside with Temperatures Below 40 Degrees

With the change of seasons and cold weather in the forecast, the Humane Rescue Alliance reminds all DC residents of the new laws recently passed by the DC Council protecting animals during colder temperatures.

“This is our first cold weather season under the new laws established to protect Washington, DC’s animals during extreme temperatures,” said Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance. “We want to remind pet owners of these new laws, particularly the laws defining adequate shelter and the length of time pets are allowed outside when the temperature is below freezing. We encourage everyone to keep their pets inside during cold weather.”

The “Standard of Care for Animals Act of 2017,” or “Ray’s Law,” passed in October provides significant revisions to the District’s laws governing the humane treatment of animals. Highlighted in the law are two important changes directly related to cold weather:

  • The law clarifies that an animal cannot be outdoors for more than 15 minutes during periods of extreme weather without human accompaniment or adequate shelter. Extreme winter weather means temperatures below 32 degrees. 
  • The law defines “adequate shelter” when the temperature is at or below 40 degrees. Adequate shelter means the dog has access to a shelter that has an entrance covered by a flexible wind-proofing material or self-closing door, that contains a platform for the dog at least four inches off the ground, and that contains dry bedding, which shall consist of an insulating material that does not retain moisture such as straw, and is of a sufficient depth for the dog to burrow.

Call (202) 576-6664 for animal related emergencies, including animals left outside in extreme temperatures.

The law, known now as “Ray’s Law,” is a tribute to Vice President of Field Services Ray Noll, a longtime animal welfare advocate who was instrumental in crafting the legislation. Noll, who passed away suddenly in September, had worked tirelessly for months to ensure the bill would effectively address the issues of adequate care and proper enforcement.


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