INDIANAPOLIS — The weather will soon be cold and snowy, and that means animal advocates are making a big push to educate pet owners about leaving their animals outside.
Volunteers with Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside are out on the streets Friday, talking to dog owners about the city’s animal care and treatment ordinance.
"We are going out now because the weather is going to start getting miserably cold,” Darcie Kurtz, executive director at FIDO, said. “Our help is more important in extreme weather. When the temperatures fall below 20 degrees, dogs can’t be left outside at all— that’s a temperature that becomes lift threatening especially for the short-haired dogs like pit bulls.”
They are focusing on eight hot spots in the city—neighborhoods where the city gets the most animal control calls and violations, like the area around Sherman and Michigan on the east side.
FIDO volunteer Chelsea Fargo saw the hot spots first hand when she worked for Indianapolis Animal Care Services.
“Usually it's on the lower-income sides of the city,” Fargo said. “You'd see the dogs chained up outside and most of the dogs were unaltered most of the time. Most of the time they mean well and they love their pets just like family, but they just need help."
FIDO’s first stop with WRTV is a family that keeps their dog outside.
After volunteers make sure the dog has a proper shelter, FIDO offers to spay their pet for free and provides pamphlets with more information.
"We let people know we are here to help,” Kurtz said. “We want to help them keep their dog in their home. We don't want the dog to end up at the shelter. We just want the dogs to have a good quality of life."
FIDO’s next stop is a German Shepherd chained up outside.
FIDO is concerned because the dog appears thin, and they suspect the chain may be too short and the dog house is on the small side.
Volunteers knock on the owner’s door, but no one answers, so FIDO leaves information at the door and makes a note to come back again.
Although FIDO can’t write citations, they can pass on cases to Indianapolis Animal Care Services if the pet owners haven’t made any improvement.
"If it's to the point where the conditions are that the animal is suffering and we think there can be improvements, that's where Animal Care Services can step in,” Kurtz said.
FIDO also provides dog houses and insulation to those in need.
IF YOU SEE AN ANIMAL IN DANGER:
- For immediate help during business hours call the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622, which will dispatch to IACS.
- On weekends and evenings/nights, call police non-emergency at 317-327-3811, which will dispatch to IACS.
- The best way to reach IACS 24/7 is on-line via RequestIndy since the reports go directly to the Animal Control Officers on duty.
- For people who want FIDO’s help for their own dogs: 317-221-1314 is their voice mail
Indianapolis Dog Care and Treatment Key Ordinance Information
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 just large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around
- The entrance must be covered by a flexible windproofing 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 less than 6 months old
- Your dog is sick or injured
- It is between 11 p.m. & 6 a.m.
- Your dog is not spayed or neutered, unless your dog is in an adult’s visual range or you are outside with your dog
- The tether is less than 12 feet in length
- The tether does not have working swivels on both ends
- The tether is attached to a pinch, prong, or choke collar, or wrapped directly around the dog’s neck
Your dog must be brought inside a temperature-controlled building kept between 40°F and 80°F, 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 wind chill 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.
Your dog must have access to:
- Continuous fresh drinking water
- Food that is appropriate for dogs and in adequate amounts to maintain good health
- A clean and sanitary environment with enough space to prevent the dog from standing, sitting, or lying in its own excrement
- Treatment for open lesions on the dog’s skin due to insect bites
- Inside training crates or airline crates should never be used for shelter or containment outside
For more on Indy’s basic care and treatment requirements, go to Municode.com, Article IV. Care and Treatment; Sec. 531401.
You can learn more information on FIDO's Giving Tuesday fundraiser here.