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My Pet World: Local ordinances can guide you when helping a neglected dog

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I felt sad to read in your column about a dog possibly being neglected. I liked your idea for the questioner to help in a non-confrontational manner. I've been in this position myself and know how difficult it can be to have help taken the wrong way or refused. In the column, you said, "There is no law that says the dog can't be outside."

I wanted to add that might depend on where one lives. I live in Connecticut, and the laws recently changed here so that an animal cannot be outside 24/7. Dogs must be taken in for at least a portion of the day, which means they can get some relief when it's below freezing or 100 degrees outside. I thought that this might be important for your readers to know.

— Susan, East Hartford, Connecticut

Dear Susan,

You make an excellent point. Many state laws and local ordinances dictate how long a dog can be outside, under what conditions they should not be outside, and what the pet owner must provide to protect them from inclement weather, etc. In fact, in most states, dogs can no longer be chained outside.


If one is concerned about a neighbor’s dog, refer to local pet care ordinances or talk to animal control about the situation to determine if the dog is being neglected, and what steps can be taken to remedy the situation.

Dear Cathy,

I hope you can help with a problem regarding our senior tabby cat, Kitty. My husband and I adopted her around age five. She was a rescue, so we don't know what her early life was like before us. While she was always skittish, she has always been wonderful, quiet, and affectionate. She has never scratched the furniture and always used her litter box.

We have been through some big changes in recent years. Kitty has always been the only pet, but we fostered some stray kittens a few years ago. She hated and avoided them, spending most of her time outside in the yard, where she began to urinate and defecate, even though we got an extra litter box for the kittens. Then, a year ago, we moved across the country. Since moving, she continues to urinate in the litter box but almost never defecates there. She uses the bedroom rug instead.


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