New Laws Mean High Fines for Neglectful Pet Owners This Winter

A new ordinance in Philadelphia requires pet owners to step up and keep their pets protected from winter’s below-freezing weather conditions or face hefty fines.

When Philadelphia declares a code blue, code gray or code red advisory for extreme weather, pet owners now have no choice but to keep their furry friends sheltered or face fines up to $300.

“Keeping dogs safe and warm is a basic need,” Susan Cosby, executive director of the Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT). “Don’t risk fines by taking steps now to ensure your dog has protection from the elements.”

The new ordinance, introduced and supported by Congressman Kenyatta Johnson, relies on concerned neighbors to report animals left out in the cold by calling ACCT at 267-385-3800 or email

ACCT recommends that pet owners who normally keep their pets outdoors start moving their pets inside, or into a suitable form of shelter, before the bitter cold kicks in. The legislation outlines several requirements for pet owners, including standards for acceptable pet housing during extreme weather.

Code blue conditions are expected this week with snow and temperatures that feel as low as 10 degrees on Wednesday. Code blue refers to temperatures below 20 degrees, code gray refers to precipitation accompanied by temperatures below 32 degrees and code red refers to forecasts of 95 degrees or higher for three consecutive days. During all three conditions, pet owners will be required to move their pets indoors.

Neglectful pet owners will be subject to a fine of no less than $150, according to the ordinance.

Pet owners who want more information or help with the new ordinance can contact for tips on how to make the transition indoors easier.

A complete list of tips for pet owners can be found at

Originally published on

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