87°Mostly Cloudy

Emergency ‘Momma’s Law’ Passes DC Council “Establishes Temporary Protections from Extreme Cold Weather for Dogs”

by Prince Of Petworth February 7, 2017 at 3:55 pm 17 Comments

momma

From a press release:

“Today, at the DC Council’s Legislative Meeting, Councilmember Brandon T. Todd (D-Ward 4) introduced the Extreme Weather Protection for Animals Emergency Amendment Act of 2017. The bill resoundingly passed the Council and, like all emergency legislation, will take effect immediately upon the Mayor’s signature and expire in 90 days. It fills critical gaps in existing law that were exposed last month, when Momma, a pit bull in Petworth, was left outdoors in frigid temperatures for days, sparking a national conversation about animal welfare laws in the District of Columbia. Councilmember Todd announced the bill’s passage at a press conference with the Humane Rescue Alliance at their facility in Ward 4.

“After the outpouring of concern from Ward 4 residents – and people all over the country – regarding Momma’s safety and the inadequacy of existing animal welfare laws, I knew something had to be done,” said Councilmember Todd. “Although I am currently working on legislation to address this problem permanently, I was concerned that dogs like Momma would suffer in the interim. That is why I introduced this emergency legislation to ensure that this winter, no dog in the District of Columbia suffers the way Momma did. Even as Washington, DC faces unprecedented levels of Congressional interference, important work at the local level must continue. It is our Government’s responsibility to protect our four-legged friends who cannot protect themselves.”

“We applaud Councilmember Todd in taking this critical step in strengthening DC’s animal cruelty laws,” said Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance. “We look forward to working with him and his colleagues on the Council as we strive to permanently improve our collective ability to protect animals.”

The emergency law temporarily amends section § 22–1001 of the DC Code to define “protection from the weather” as “providing access to a shelter that is suitable for the age, condition, size, and type of each dog by doing the following: (A) accounting for the space needed for each dog, and ensuring that the space protects the dog from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, the adverse effects of cold, physical suffering, and impairment of health; and (B) ensuring that the shelter is raised at least 4 inches from the ground; includes a heat retaining, moisture wicking substance such as straw; and has a covered wind block.”

These requirements take effect whenever the Mayor declares a cold emergency alert. Failure to comply with these requirements will be punishable by a fine of up to $250, to be implemented by the Humane Rescue Alliance’s humane law enforcement officers.

Over the coming months, Councilmember Todd will continue to work with the Humane Rescue Alliance, the Department of Health, and other stakeholders on a permanent piece of legislation to improve the District’s animal welfare laws. That legislation – the Extreme Weather Protection for Animals Act of 2017, referred to by some as “Momma’s Law,” was introduced by Councilmember Todd on January 10, 2017, and has been referred to the DC Council Committee on Health. A hearing on the bill has not yet been scheduled.”

  • Anon

    Am I reading right – no authority to help animal, just impose $250 fine? Something tells me this dog owner won’t care and will never pay.

    • C’mon.

      Correct – leaving an animal to suffer inhumane conditions is just barely more than getting caught on a speed camera. I mean, I guess this is better than nothing…I think?

    • Yeah – my thought exactly. A fine is meaningless. Unless there is authority to take the dog out of the dangerous conditions, this bill is a total waste of time, as well as an insult to all who worked to actually change the law.

      • LittleBluePenguin

        +1. GRRRRRRR!!!!!!

      • Tsar of Truxton

        Also, it seems like Momma’s shelter pretty much meets the vague requirements in this definition. It is basically just missing the wind block. How about, at a minimum, requiring people to keep their pets inside during extreme cold (say freezing) and heat (over 90). I would prefer much stricter laws about keeping pets outside, but that would be better than this. It def. allow the pet to be seized.

        • Tsar of Truxton

          *def. should allow

      • Anonymous-est

        Victoria, I’m not sure which law you’re referring to, but concerned citizens and welfare advocates are currently working on permanent legislation to improve the current qnimal welfare laws in DC. As an animal welfare adovate, this is a step in the right direction, not an insult. If these are important to you please engage and provide meaningful feedback with your elected officials. Thank you.

    • Also no one is sure how the fine will be implemented or enforced. Humane Rescue Alliance and Animal Control can not issue citations and MPD can not issue a 61D for animal cruelty so….

  • Anon

    While I can see how this is great for this dog in this situation, I don’t think this is well thought out overall.

    For example, I have a Husky who is comfortable outside for as cold as DC can possibly get, and he insists on sleeping outside in our backyard at night so he can get some relief from the 70 degree in-door heat. Under this law, I will now be fined if he is outside? Seems pretty terrible when I am actually doing the opposite, giving the dog protection from the indoor weather.

    Also, just to clarify, he is not outside in the rain, snow or other storm like conditions though.

    • JoDa

      Actually, this protects your option to allow you to let your dog sleep outside in cold weather by mandating that “shelter that is suitable for the age, condition, size, and type of each dog by doing the following: (A) accounting for the space needed for each dog, and ensuring that the space protects the dog from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, the adverse effects of cold, physical suffering, and impairment of health; and (B) ensuring that the shelter is raised at least 4 inches from the ground; includes a heat retaining, moisture wicking substance such as straw; and has a covered wind block.” If your dog is a “type” and of an “age and condition” that it can withstand or, nay, enjoys cold weather, all you have to do is provide it with a dog house, raised at least 4″ from the ground, and has a plastic flap to protect it from the wind, and you’re free to let your dog spend the night out in your yard. You can build that easily using cheap materials. If you don’t want to build it, many similar structures are available for purchase online. To be frank, DC’s animal control laws required the same before this “emergency legislation.” Dogs were required to have access to food, water, shade, and shelter at all times. This law just clarifies what constitutes “shelter” in cold weather. If you have a dog door that allows your dog to come in if he wants to, you’ve met and exceeded the requirements of the law.

  • Anonymous-est

    The key word is “emergency”. This is essentially a 90-day fix to prevent other animals suffering from neglect like Momma did. It’s not perfect, which no claims it is; it’s something in place to hold us out thru winter, which is more than we had before now. Now we are foward-looking and it’s time provide guidance/support on the permanent legislation to our elected officials. At the very least, pease contact them to show your support for comprehensive permanent legislation. There is a Momma’s Law FB page you can follow for updates and ways to get involved (I don’t run it – just follow it myself). Hope that helps. I applaud CM Todd on getting this pushed thru and working towards permanent legislation. Thank you, PoP!!

    • Tsar of Truxton

      Does it really though?

      • Anonymous-est

        Please contact (or continue to contact if you already have!) your CM, the AL CMs, and the committee with ways to strengthen animal welfare laws. Thanks!

    • It is not a “fix” of any kind – 90 day or whatever. Does it empower animal welfare officers to immediately take an animal out of dangerous and cruel conditions – yes or no? If no, it is worthless. A waste of legislative time and an insult to every citizen who cares about animal welfare.

      • Anonymous-est

        Please contact (or continue to contact if you already have!) your CM, the AL CMs, and the committee with ways to strengthen animal welfare laws. Thanks!

      • nonanon

        as someone who has worked exhaustively on this issue, the emergency legislation is in no way a waste of time or an insult: it is a step in the right direction. the law has not defined “dangerous”, “cruel”, “adequate shelter”, etc., which is why HLE was unable to help momma. we ALL want improvements to the entire animal welfare section of the DC code, which is exactly what we will continue to work on, but the emergency legislation was necessary in order to address the conditions that momma suffered in, for the remainder of the winter. instead of disparaging the efforts of all of us who worked tirelessly for this to happen, I’d ask to you to start calling your CM, the at large CMs, and the mayor’s office and tell them you support permanent legislative changes. you can also join the momma’s law facebook group so you can stay updated on our progress and help out as the legislation progresses. thanks.

      • The answer is no, it does not. Nor does it account for how the dogs are to be dispositioned thereafter. Are they to be returned to the owner once the temperature is adequate?

×

Subscribe to our mailing list