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Regulations protecting dogs during winter goes into effect in Mississauga

A dog being walked outside during winter. CSAKISTI/THINKSTOCK

New regulations to ensure the welfare of pets during the winter months went into effect in Mississauga on Monday.

Amendments to the existing Animal Care and Control bylaw bans people from leaving animals outside during extreme weather without proper shelter.

The new “standards of care” were approved by council in September.

One regulation says that dogs should only be tethered for a maximum of four hours in a 24-hour period. While tied up, the dog must be able to access food, water, shelter and shade. Tethers must be at least three metres so that the dog can move freely and safely.

“With the winter season pet owners are especially reminded to monitor weather conditions using sources such as Environment Canada for weather alerts and to bring their pets in during extreme weather,” Mickey Frost, director of enforcement at the City of Mississauga said in a release.

“The City will be using social media to remind residents and including a notice that the bylaw is in effect during extreme conditions.”

Lily Chan, president of Mississauga Humane Society, said she is especially happy about the tethering regulation.

“I think this is really good news. It will protect those 24/7, confined or chained outdoor dogs,” Chan said on Monday.

“People or neighbours, if you see a dog that’s being chained up … report it to Animal Services, so the investigation can be made because animal [sevices] officer now has the authority to go to the property and check out the animals.”

The bylaw also covers dog houses and pens. Dog houses need to be big enough for the dog to “stand up, turn around, lie down and stretch its limbs to the fullest.”

Dog houses — which must adhere to the city’s zoning bylaw — also need to be in good condition, safe, sanitary with clean and dry bedding, a door flap, and insulated. The insulation must be covered so that pets can’t come into contact with it.

For animals in a pen or enclosure, it “must be out of the pen and not tethered for four hours in any 24 hour time period.”

It should be a minimum of 9.3 m2 or 100 ft2 per dog, with 2.8 m2 or 30 ft2 added for each extra dog.

As with doghouses, the pen must be safe, secure, and sanitary, and during the summer, provide shade for the animal.

The fines for breaking the new regulations are determined by courts upon conviction, Mickey Frost, director of enforcement at the City of Mississauga explained.

“The high is a maximun of $25,000,” Frost said.

Over the summer months, police repeatedly warned people not to leave their pets unattended in vehicles, but the same rule also applies during the winter due to the cold temperatures.

“Animals travelling in automobiles must be in the passenger compartment of the vehicle or if outside must be in a securely fastened kennel that provides adequate ventilation and protects the animal from the elements,” the city stipulated in a release.

Enforcement of the new regulation will be based on a complaint basis, Frost said. If someone calls in with a case, an animal services officer will go to the home and investigate. Frost said the bylaw gives officers the power to investigate side and rear yards on private lands. Officers also regularly patrol city parks.

Staff are going to report back to council next fall to report back on the effectiveness of the amendments, Frost added.

In Toronto, the municipal code states an enclosed space must be provided for animals to protect them from the weather elements during summer and winter, as well as proper bedding.

According to Animal Services, the fine for not providing adequate care is $240. Click here for a list of fines for breaking animal bylaws.