At least a half-dozen redbone coonhounds were howling away on Friday morning in below freezing temperatures behind a vacant Lowman home.
Worried neighbors told 18 News that the owner leaves the dogs outside every day, year-round.
The owner lives off-site, but we saw him on the property of the vacant home where he told us he did not want to speak on camera. While on his property, he said we couldn’t film his dogs, so we shot our camera from the public road.
The City of Elmira’s animal control department says the situation is under investigation.
Under New York state’s animal cruelty laws, article 26 says minimum shelter standards for outdoor dogs must be appropriate according to breed, physical condition and climate and that shade must be provided.
Housing facilities must have a waterproof roof and provide adequate freedom of movement allowing the dog “to make normal postural adjustments, including the ability to stand up, turn around and lie down with its limbs outstretched.”
The space must also allow for “effective removal of excretions” with the surrounding area “regularly cleaned to maintain a healthy and sanitary environment…”
Lastly, it must be structurally sound with appropriate insulation to “local climatic conditions and sufficient to protect the dog from inclement weather.”
We did see shelter for the animals, but we were too far to see if it met the required standards.
When we asked the owner how he’s keeping his animals warm, he said with straw, which animal control says is a form of insulation.
“The long form straw is probably your best, natural insulation that you could put in a dog coop… better than blankets which absorbs moisture or hay which hardly gives any insulation at all,” Craig Spencer, the animal control director for the City of Elmira, said.
Because there is no law that states animals must be brought inside a home when the temperature drops to a certain degree, outdoor shelter is suitable only if it meets the legal standards, which we won’t know if this case does until animal control completes its investigation.
Additionally, the owner must be feeding the animals a minimum of every 12 hours legally, but animal control is hoping these life necessities are being provided more than that.