Dog owners are now required to provide adequate shelter for their animals under legislation sponsored by Senator Serphin R. Maltese (Middle Village – Maspeth) that has been passed by both houses of the Legislature.

“Complaints about dogs being left outdoors without adequate shelter are among the most frequent calls received by humane societies and police all across New York State,” said Senator Maltese, during Senate floor debate in the early hours of the morning on the last day of session. “We have all seen the incredibly cruel stories of dogs freezing to death, some actually frozen to the ground, pets dying from extreme heat or other complications due to exposure to the elements that could have been prevented. It is about time that their owners are held accountable for these unbelievable acts of cruelty.”

Senator Maltese, a co-founder together with Calla Fricke of 'I Love Animals,' said that this bill (S.4549/A.8679) will allow police and cruelty investigators to intervene before a case of inadequate shelter becomes life threatening by making clear that dogs kept outdoors must be provided with adequate shelter appropriate to their breed, physical condition and the climate.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno joined in the debate and also implored colleagues to have “compassion for dogs out there defenseless, howling, whining and barking, looking for support from us.”

Senator Maltese, the prime sponsor of the long-sought after protective legislation, thanked Senator Bruno, ASPCA Senior Vice President Lisa Weisberg, the sole Senate cosponsor Senator John DeFrancisco, the Assembly prime sponsor Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Mrs. Bobbi Bruno and all the dog lovers who have advocated for this legislation. The bill passed 57-4.

Under the provisions of the bill, all dogs left outdoors in inclement weather would have to be provided with a housing facility that:
• has a waterproof roof
• is structurally sound and able to protect the dog from inclement weather
• is constructed to allow the dog adequate freedom of movement
• allows for effective removal of waste material.

A first-time violation of this provision would be punishable by a fine of $50 to $100. Second and subsequent violators would be fined $100 to $250. The Court would have discretion to reduce the amount of any fine imposed by the amount a defendant proves he or she has spent in correcting the inadequate shelter and bringing it into compliance with the requirements of this section. Upon a finding of a violation of this section, dogs that have not been voluntarily surrendered or forfeited by court order can be returned to their owner or custodian only upon proof that appropriate shelter in compliance with this section is being provided.

The bill now goes before Governor Pataki for signature into law.