After checking with the Chief of Humane Law Enforcement at the Monmouth County SPCA, here's what the law says and what you should do if you think a dog is going to freeze outside.

Most dog owners would not even think of leaving their pet out in the cold and snow for very long, and would even go so far as to bundle their dog in a coat for a short walk and then bring them right back inside.

But there are some dogs that enjoy being outside in this weather, like Burmese Mountain Dogs and Siberian Huskies. They can last longer outside and are actually considered well-suited for the cold and snow.

That said, it is illegal to keep a dog CHAINED UP outside without giving it the option to seek shelter or a break from the wind or even a spot of warm sunshine. It is also illegal if there is no access to fresh, UNFROZEN water (you can get a heated water bowl.) Dogs need water to regulate their body temperature.

Also, if your dog wants to stay outside for a little while because it is excited about winter, it helps to leave food out, too, since eating generates metabolism and thereby generates heat.

Ross also says despite you thinking your dog deserves a mansion, small dog houses are better! Dogs most often feel comfy in close quarters where it is cozy, and not in a place that is overly spacious. Straw or shavings on the floor will help keep it ice cold, too.

If you see a dog chained up and left outside in this dangerously-cold weather, you can call the Animal Cruelty Hotline at 800-582-5979, but Ross Lacitra (Executive Director of the MCSPCA) says it could actually take a few hours to get that call to the local authorities, so you might be better off calling your local police or even 911 if it looks like the dog is in dire conditions.

P.S. Just for the record, the dog in this photo belongs to my friend Marianne. His name is Norman and he is NEVER left out in the snow for longer than a moment or two just to enjoy getting a few snowflakes on his tongue. Norman is the most precious doggie and is doted on as if he is a prince. He's got the BEST human Mommy and he is taken such good care of that in my next life I want to come back as one of Mare's dogs, lol!

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