David McKay - (WWLP) - No matter the season, new laws make it illegal in Massachusetts to leave your dog unattended and tethered outside for more than five hours at a time. During a weather advisory or warning, dogs cannot be tied out and left unattended at all.
The new protection measures took effect at the end of last year, and also prohibit the tethering of dogs anytime from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., except for a maximum of 15 supervised minutes.
This past week there was a controversial case in Westfield. Residents in one neighborhood said a dog was being left outside and not taken care of. Police say this was not the case.
Westfield Police Captain Michael McCabe said the long-haired Belgian Shepherd was found well cared for, had a place to go sleep in, and had plenty of food and water.
McCabe said the owner has since been harassed, and that people who were intending to do well by feeding the dog actually made the situation worse, making it sick.
When a dog is tethered outside during appropriate times of the day, he or she must have access to clean water and a dog shelter that is fully enclosed on at least three sides, is roofed, and has a solid floor. The shelter must also have a dog bed and must be big enough for the dog to stand, lie down and turn comfortably, but small enough to retain the dog's body heat.
Owners who violate these laws will be fined anywhere between $50 for first offenses to $300 for subsequent violations.
The 8-year-old dog in Westfield has had to be relocated by its owner because of the circumstances, police said. If you would like to read more about the law concerning tethering a dog, click here.
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