It’s the law: Don’t leave your pets out in the cold without shelter

(WRIC) — With winter upon us, it’s a good time to remind pet owners about the dangers and legal consequences of leaving animals outside without shelter.

It’s not just dangerous for animals, it’s illegal.

Virginia law says that pet owners need to provide adequate shelter for companion animals that is “suitable for the species, age, condition, size and type of each animal.” Law states that the shelter must have enough space for each animal, is safe and protects animals from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight and the adverse effects of heat or cold. Shelter must also be properly lighted and cleaned. In addition, the shelter must have a solid surface (resting platform, pad, floormat, or similar device) that is large enough for the animal to lie on in a normal manner.

Click here to read more about Virginia’s comprehensive animal care law.

It’s also a good idea to check outside water sources and remember that pets in the cold need more calories to keep warm. Click here for tips from the Human Society on how to protect your pets from the cold.

If you see an animal left out in the cold, The Humane Society encourages you to contact local law enforcement.

8News sister station WIAT contributed to this report.

Read more from our Winter Weather Central coverage section.

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