DOVER, Del. – Delaware lawmakers are hoping to add more protections for dogs during hazardous weather with Senate Bill 139. But some are saying it’s missing one key component in the legislation that can help make a difference.
Under Senate Bill 139, dogs would no longer be allowed to stay outside for more than 15 minutes during hazardous weather. That includes advisories and warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
District 20 representative Steve Smyk says the language in this bill has “gotten better,” but there needs to be more details hammered out.
Representative Bryan Shupe, from District 36, says adding alerts from the National Weather Service gives some teeth for Animal Control when they respond to cases.
Smyk insists that changing the language is good, but for this bill to have any backbone, Animal Control, which currently has 15 employees to answer calls across the state, would need more funding.
“I’d like to also see some money go into the enforcement agency, because that’s the only way that this type of law is going to be effective,” said Smyk.
But there are some exceptions in the bill. Dogs actively protecting livestock or poultry will not be considered to be outside and unattended if they have access to a building, such as a barn.
“Understanding that there are different needs, that those animals may be out for longer period of time based on what they do for a living,” Shupe said.
Smyk says that language doesn’t go far enough, and doesn’t address situations like hunting dogs. As he says, the devil is in the details.
“Those dog owners, those Beagles, they’re very hardy. Let’s take a look at those guys, who they’re taking care of their dogs.”
The legislation also states dogs can no longer be tethered for more than two hours without a caretaker present.
Senate Bill 139 has been assigned to the Judicial Committee in the Senate. Under this bill, a first offense would be a $100 fine, with second offenses resulting in $250 and $500 fines for subsequent offenses.