We've reached the cold winter months! But no matter the weather, dogs will have to go outside to do their business. But how long can you leave them outside in dangerous weather conditions? And is it illegal to leave your dog, or any animal, outside for an extended amount of time during these weather conditions?

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I know what you should be thinking: "Leave pets out in the freezing cold?? Of course it's illegal!"

I feel the same way. But after speaking to one of my friends who's lived in the southern states for about three years, this is unfortunately not an uncommon thing. Dogs are oftentimes left chained outside for hours upon hours in the brutal summer heat and in the bitter winter cold - and more often than not, nobody blinks an eye or gives it much of a second thought. And if somebody reports an animal left in dangerous weather conditions, it's not always taken very seriously.

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My friend told me he had recently taken his next-door neighbor's dog inside of his house, because his neighbor left their dog outside, and intended to leave her there in 30 degree temperatures all night... because she messed up the Christmas tree. This I find infuriating.

After hearing this, I just had to make sure: Is it illegal to leave your dog outside in the winter?

Thankfully, the answer is yes. It is illegal in New Jersey. And that includes pet cats.

It was signed into law in 2017. You can look at the full text here. It reads:

"It is unlawful to expose a dog, pet, or service animal to harsh weather conditions, such as freezing temperatures (32 degrees Fahrenheit or below), excessive heat (90 degrees Fahrenheit or above), rain or snow, for more than thirty minutes when the owner or caretaker of the animal is not with the animal and exposed to same conditions."

Violators are subject to paying a fine, imprisonment, community service, paying restitution, and even having their animal taken away from them. The law also forbids cruelly restraining and confining animals.

If you're cold, your dog is cold. They need to be safe and warm at home just as much as you do.

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If you see any animal being left outside in dangerously cold or hot conditions, don't hesitate to call the authorities!

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