Animal care officers spend day educating pet owners about hot weather ordinance

When temps hit 90, bring pet inside
Posted at 9:45 PM, May 28, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS -- As temperatures climbed into the 90s on Memorial Day, officers from Indianapolis Animal Care Services spent the day educating people on the city’s care and treatment ordinance.

The ordinance, which took effect in 2015, says your dog must be brought inside to a temperature controlled building when the temperature outside is 90°F and above or if there’s a heat advisory.

Also, when the temperature is at or above 80°F, your dog’s shelter must be shaded by either trees or a tarp. 

RTV6 rode along with Officer Billie Bowling as he responded to complaints on the south side about dogs left outside.

"We’ve got a call about a dog outside all day and night possibly no food no water no shelter," said Bowling.

Bowling checked out the property, but the dog wasn’t outside. Across the street, Bowling saw a dog chained in a backyard.

Bowling explained to the dog’s owner that the dog can only be outside in 90 degree temperatures for a few minutes while going to the bathroom.

He also explained dogs can’t be chained or tethered if they’re not spayed or neutered, unless the dog is within eyesight.

“The biggest concern right now is the 90 degree weather,” said Bowling. “It doesn’t take long for heat stroke to affect a dog. It’s very painful.”

Indianapolis Animal Care Services didn’t cite the owner, Eboni Washington, because she claimed to be outside with the dog as he was going to the bathroom.

“He’s always in the house,” said Washington. “There’s people looking out for the animals so that’s a good thing.”

Washington said she was grateful for the education on the ordinance.

“You have to have some type of shelter I just learned,” said Washington. “Just in case you have to run in or anything like that, you just want your dog to have some kind of protection from the heat.”

The next complaint call was for a report of a husky left in a hot garage for hours at a time.

Bowling said the owner admitted to leaving the garage, so he educated her about the ordinance.

“The dog was panting pretty heavily but doesn't seem to be in any distress,” said Bowling. “I explained to her, hey above 90 the dog can't be outside and he definitely can't be in a garage when it’s 90 degrees."

Bowling said their goal is not to cite pet owners.

“We want to educate them,” said Bowling. “We want to be more of an educator than the enforcer, but we will be the enforcer if we have to.”

Violators can face a $25 fine, but if it’s an egregious violation you could lose your ability to own dogs in Marion County.


Your dog must have access to: 

  • A shelter constructed of solid wood or other weather resistant materials consisting of solid walls on all sides 
  • A dry floor raised above the ground 
  • A roof sloped away from the entrance to protect your dog from weather and extreme cold 

During the winter months and when the temperature is below 40°F: 

  • The shelter must be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around 
  • The entrance must be covered by a flexible wind proofing material or self-closing door 
  • The shelter must contain clean, dry bedding which must consist of an insulating material that does not retain moisture, such as straw, and sufficient depth for your dog to burrow 

Pen or Fenced Enclosure 

  • Your dog must have adequate space for exercise when confined to a kennel, enclosure or pen which must be at least 100 square feet (for example: 10ft. x 10ft.) 
  • Any dog over 80 pounds must be provided with a space of 150 square feet 
  • For each additional dog inside the enclosure, an extra 50 square feet must be provided 

It is against the law to tether (chain) your dog if any of the following is true: 

  • Your dog is is less than 6 months old 
  • Your dog is sick or injured 
  • It is between 11 pm & 6 am
  • Your dog is not spayed or neutered, unless you are an adult, your dog is in your visual range, and you are outside with your dog 

Extreme Weather 
Your dog must be brought inside a temperature controlled building, such as your house when: 

  • The temperature outside is 20°F & below 
  • The temperature outside is 90°F & above 
  • There’s a heat advisory 
  • There’s a windchill warning 
  • A tornado warning has been issued 

On any day where the temperature is at or above 80°F, your dog’s shelter must be shaded by either trees or a tarp. 

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