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Old 22.11.2015, 16:15
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Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

I cannot find a previous thread on this topic so please forgive me if there is one. Our neighbours seem to have gone away for the weekend, leaving their retriever in a pen in the garden. We live in the pre-Alps and it has been snowing the entire weekend, with minus temperatures. I obviously don't sit glued to the window but at the same time haven't seen anybody coming around to check on the dog. There is a kennel in the pen but the whole front is open so it's not terribly warm I would imagine. My husband went to check on the dog a while ago and found his drinking water green and iced over. He cleaned the dish and poured in fresh water. He also gave the dog some biscuits which he ate but not with great enthusiasm so someone is possibly feeding him. When this happened previously I phoned our local Tierheim only to be told that there is no law against this and in fact farm animals are always expected to live outside. Not sure what this has to do with our neighbour's dog since we live in a village and not on a farm but I guess the person was trying to tell me that it is normal to keep a dog outside in icy conditions. Is there really nothing I can do about this?
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Old 22.11.2015, 17:23
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Good on you and your husband for trying to help this dog.

It's often a fine line between what is legal and what is in our eyes right. First question is:

Do you believe that the dog is in mortal danger?

If you believe this is the case, act.

The 'Swiss way' would be to call the cantonal Veterinäramt, stressing the urgency of the situation. Ask if you may legally act yourself, or if an authority must do so.

That the dog's waterbowl is freezing over could (IMO, but IANAL) constitute grounds for action - but again, it is best to clarify the legal situation with the Veterinäramt.

Are you in a position to take the dog into your home until the owners return? If so, again, ask the Veterinäramt if you may legally do so.

But of course it is Sunday, and who knows if the Veterinatamt is available - likely not. A second possibility would be to call one of the 24/7 veterinary clinics, ask for advice.

---
Assuming that the dog is not in danger, keep an watchful eye, continuing to care for the dog as best you can until the owners return.

Do you know the owners? Are they generally approachable?

Then, speak with the dog's owners, express concerns. See where that conversation goes before going the official route.

---

A bit of background FYI:


Whether or not the conditions the dog is being kept conform to the TSchV in would probably end up as a quesiton of interpretation, but here are (some of)s the relevant texts:

https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifi...796/index.html

(German text in italics, my very rough translation follows below.)

Article 6 deals with Protection from weather, for all animal species:

Die Tierhalterin oder der Tierhalter sorgt für den notwendigen Schutz der Tiere, die sich der Witterung nicht anpassen können.

The animal keeper shall provide the necessary protection for animals that cannot adapt to weather conditions.

Additionally, Article 5 (Pflege, again for all species) says:

Die Tierhalterin oder der Tierhalter muss das Befinden der Tiere und den Zustand der Einrichtungen so oft wie nötig überprüfen. Sie oder er muss Mängel an den Einrichtungen, die das Befinden der Tiere beeinträchtigen, unverzüglich beheben oder geeignete Massnahmen zum Schutz der Tiere treffen.

The animal keeper shall check the condition of the animals and of the facilities as often as necessary. He or she shall immediately correct any deficiencies of the facilities that impair the well-being of the animals or take appropriate action to protect the animals.

Now to dogs:

Art 72 deals with dogs kept outside:

1 Für Hunde, die im Freien gehalten werden, müssen eine Unterkunft und ein geeigneter Liegeplatz vorhanden sein. Ausgenommen sind Herdenschutzhunde, während sie eine Herde bewachen.

2 Hunden muss geeignetes Liegematerial zur Verfügung stehen.

3 Hunde dürfen nicht auf perforierten Böden gehalten werden.

4 Bei Boxenhaltung und bei Zwingerhaltung müssen die Gehege den Anforderungen nach Anhang 1 Tabelle 10 entsprechen. Das BLV legt in Abweichung von Anhang 1 Tabelle 10 besondere Mindestflächen fest für Boxen in Tierheimen für Hunde, deren Aufenthalt maximal drei Wochen dauert oder die tagsüber in Gruppen in einem grossen Aussengehege gehalten werden.
1
4bis Bei Boxenhaltung und bei Zwingerhaltung müssen für jeden Hund eine erhöhte Liegefläche und eine Rückzugsmöglichkeit vorhanden sein. In begründeten Fällen, namentlich bei kranken oder alten Tieren, kann auf die Rückzugsmöglichkeit verzichtet werden.


Scroll down about 3/4 of the way to the end, see Anhang 1 Table 10 for kennel specifications.

Roughly:

1 Housing and a suitable lying area shall be provided for dogs kept outdoors, except for livestock guardian dogs while they are guarding a herd.

2 Dogs shall be provided with suitable material to lie upon.

3 Dogs shall not be kept on perforated floors.

4 In the case of dogs kept in boxes or kennels, the enclosures shall conform to the requirements stipulated in Annex 1 Table 10.

An elevated lying area and a possibility for withdrawal shall be provided for every dog. In justified cases the possibility for retreat may be dispensed with.

---

OK - you'll notice that all that is said about outdoor kennels is that they must be suitable. What suitable means is where this gets difficult.

So the legal question is whether or not the kennel, and the actions of the owner, are in line with these provisions.
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Old 22.11.2015, 17:51
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

In light of the freezing conditions, I would call the police and let them decide what to do. Maybe they would take the dog to a rescue center.
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Old 22.11.2015, 18:36
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

I was involved in a case where a dog was left outside.


What the OP has described is NOT okay. This situation needs to be reported at once.
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Old 22.11.2015, 19:46
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Are you in a position to take the dog in until the owners return ?- the fact that you did that might make them think again before leaving the poor dog as they must of been aware that the temps were changing, especially if you express your concern about the water etc.
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Old 22.11.2015, 19:54
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Depends too on the type of dog- if it is a long haired Bernese, for instance, they are bred to live outside in all weathers- as farm dogs. Do the owners live there and generally look after the dog- or just 'leave him without food and water and never off the leash/chain?

Our farming neighbour's Bernese is much loved and very well looked after- but he has a kennel outside and chooses to stay there- unless it is so bad that he goes into the barn with the cows. He is not allowed in the house- but that is quite normal for farm dogs- but well loved and looked after he is.
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Old 22.11.2015, 19:58
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Most of our dogs, cats, and rabbits lived outside year round, I really don't get the problem.



Tom

Last edited by st2lemans; 22.11.2015 at 20:27.
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Old 22.11.2015, 20:02
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

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Depends too on the type of dog- if it is a long haired Bernese, for instance, they are bred to live outside in all weathers- as farm dogs. Do the owners live there and generally look after the dog- or just 'leave him without food and water and never off the leash/chain?

Our farming neighbour's Bernese is much loved and very well looked after- but he has a kennel outside and chooses to stay there- unless it is so bad that he goes into the barn with the cows.
The OP says it is a Retriever and the ones I know would definitely hate being outside in the cold!!
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Old 22.11.2015, 20:02
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

my parents have a Tibetan Terrier. this is a cold weather dog breed. He loves the snow in winter but still can feel cold sometimes, probably also because the hair is trimmed relatively short. I wouldn't keep a dog outside in winter even if they can stand it. it is a bit heartless.
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Old 22.11.2015, 20:18
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

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The OP says it is a Retriever and the ones I know would definitely hate being outside in the cold!!
I agree SJ- but it depends how they've been raised too. If they've been used to have an outside kennel, with well insulated floor, roof and sides, etc since puppies perhaps not necessarily cruel as such. Our dogs are family pets- not quite the same as farm dogs. This situation may well involve cruelty and neglect- retriever that live outside grow a thick second undercoat- which is shed in most family pets kept indoors.
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Old 22.11.2015, 20:21
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

I would advise you to do this:

Do not take it home.
Take a picture, just in case.
Call your neighbour if you can.
As already suggested, call the police on their non-emergency number (I don't think the Swiss have something similar to 101 in the UK. You'll need to check the directory or the Internet.) and let them decide. Tell them what you told us, i.e. the dog was left without food and the water froze.
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Old 22.11.2015, 21:13
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

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Are you in a position to take the dog in until the owners return ?- the fact that you did that might make them think again before leaving the poor dog as they must of been aware that the temps were changing, especially if you express your concern about the water etc.
Might also get you into a shit load of trouble too, theft to start with.....
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Old 22.11.2015, 21:14
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

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I would advise you to do this:

Do not take it home.
Take a picture, just in case.
Call your neighbour if you can.
As already suggested, call the police on their non-emergency number (I don't think the Swiss have something similar to 101 in the UK. You'll need to check the directory or the Internet.) and let them decide. Tell them what you told us, i.e. the dog was left without food and the water froze.
112, you think we live in the dark ages here ? We don't need separate numbers, it's sufficiently well funded to have just one number.
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Old 22.11.2015, 21:28
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

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my parents have a Tibetan Terrier. this is a cold weather dog breed. He loves the snow in winter but still can feel cold sometimes, probably also because the hair is trimmed relatively short. I wouldn't keep a dog outside in winter even if they can stand it. it is a bit heartless.

About "is a cold weather dog breed"
All dogs are individuals. One time in England I owned an Afghan, mature dog from a rescue centre. First time it snowed I took her for a walk; thought she would enjoy it. After about 1 Km she flatly refused to walk any more; finished up I had to carry her home


Here in Switzerland my Jack Russell loves snow; jumps around like a crazy goat!!
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Old 22.11.2015, 21:30
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Hi, I am not sure it's a concern. The dog somehow is not starving even if the water frozen might be an issue.
I would approach the owners when they are back and explain reasonably your concerns. They might have made a different assessment knowing the dog and his habits. (I wonder how long they have been in living next to you and how many winters the dog experienced).
Anyway before to involve police, I would use an easy approach. If this is a normal behaviour and doesnt convince you...there will be unfortunately other cases of poor treatment. You will react at the next one.
On the other side...if you express your concern to the owners they will know that you know and they might level up their cares... maybe.
Keep us posted. Take care
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Old 22.11.2015, 22:16
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

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112, you think we live in the dark ages here ? We don't need separate numbers, it's sufficiently well funded to have just one number.
112 is an emergency number. It is an alias for the emergency numbers used in European countries. It's exactly the same as calling 117 in CH, 999 in the UK, or 911 in the US.
Unfortunately, Switzerland lacks a nationwide non-emergency number such as 101 in the UK or 311 in the US.

If you don't believe me, look at this website, and you'll clearly one number for emergencies, and another one below for "affaires non-urgentes" (non-emergency matters):
https://www.fr.ch/pol/fr/pub/index.cfm

You can dial 112 on any phone, even without credit, a sim card or if you only get signal from another carrier. Even if it's locked (If there is no dedicated button, type 112 as the PIN code and an option will allow you to make a call).
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Old 22.11.2015, 22:29
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Personally, I would monitor - ensure he has water and food- and see when they come back and what happens. It has been snowing here, at nearly 1000m, but temps have not been very cold, only minus 2C. If they come back, feed him, pet him, let him off the chain, etc- then I'd just say casually that if they have to go away for a day or two, you'd be happy to water and feed him. Keep an eye, make notes, take photos if you are seriously concerned. And then go and discuss with the local vet, and not the police- at this stage- and ask what to do if, and only if.

Involving the police unless he is truly at risk could cause huge problems and bad feelings. But good of you to care, and to continue to monitor.
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Old 22.11.2015, 23:18
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Thanks everyone. I spoke to a policeman who also wanted to know the breed & the size of the enclosure but then said although it isn't right to leave the dog like that it's also not illegal. He told me to stop worrying & was actually quite decent about it. I then spoke to an old Swiss friend who's also an animal lover & he said the neighbors had just arrived home. He promised to go check up on the dog & about 30 mins later the enclosure fate was open so they had fetched the dog in. Not sure how much attention he's getting but at least he's out of the cold.
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Old 22.11.2015, 23:26
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

Marina, they've lived next door for 3 years & during that time a number of us have told them that we aren't happy with the way the dog was kept. Then last year they took the dog inside more often though he still spent the entire working day in the enclosure in the back garden with no contact with people or other dogs. Then this summer the wife had a baby & the dog seems to be banned to the garden just about all the time with very occasional walks. The man is very harsh with the dog & never shows warmth or kindness towards it as far as I know. We'll just keep an eye on the situation & speak up when we feel we should.
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Old 22.11.2015, 23:29
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Re: Is it legal to keep a dog outside in freezing temperatures?

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Here in Switzerland my Jack Russell loves snow; jumps around like a crazy goat!!
My little Rookie (JR cross) just loves the snow too! He puts his nose in the white stuff and pushes it along as if he is a snow plough!
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