To citizens of Delaware for calling on the state to strengthen the state animal welfare code to protect animals from inclement weather and other risks.
This week, a husky in Delaware nearly froze to death after being left outside in extremely cold weather. The husky was elderly, and its crying got the attention of a neighbor, who alerted animal control and other neighbors. The social media and in-person response by area residents was dramatic. A few of the neighbors confronted the owner. Eventually, the owner bowed to social pressures and the dog was brought inside.
Delaware code prohibits animal control officers from removing a dog from extreme heat or cold unless the dog is tethered or locked inside a vehicle. Delaware’s animal welfare code states that owners must bring their animals indoors when there is a weather warning from the National Weather Service. But without that issuance, dog owners can legally leave their animals outside in extremely hot or cold temperatures to long as the animal is given outdoor shelter and bedding. It is a sad reality that animal control can only enforce laws that are currently on the books. In this case, the husky was saved by dedication of neighbors, but animal control could not file charges or even render aid to the dog. The law remains inadequate to protect this dog, and others in the future.
Take action. Citizens of Delaware, contact your legislators and urge them to pass legislation that would better protect animals from inclement weather. Feel free to use NHES’ sample action letter below.
Re: Improvements in Delaware Animal Welfare Law
Dear [Name of Legislator]
My name is [Your Name] and I am writing to encourage you to strengthen our state’s animal welfare law in regard to pets left outside in inclement weather. Most of us understand that the intentional, violent killing of an animal is both illegal and morally reprehensible. That stated, failing to provide for an animal’s basic needs to the degree that the animal experiences intense suffering or death also qualifies as animal cruelty, regardless of the offender’s intent. An animal left to freeze to death outside or die in the heat suffers and dies the same as an animal who is killed by use of a weapon. As you are likely aware, Delaware state code does not require animal owners to bring dogs and cats inside unless there is a weather warning from the National Weather Service. Current protections under the law are woefully insufficient, and many animals are in danger as a result. Please, I hope you and your colleagues will draft and support legislation to close this dangerous loophole.