Breaking News
More () »

It's getting colder — time for a refresher on Indy's pet laws

If it's below 40 degrees outside, several laws meant to keep animals safe kick into gear.

INDIANAPOLIS — As temperatures drop, our furry friends don't often have the luxury of stepping into the heat unless we usher them into it. 

In Indianapolis, a city ordinance says pet owners are required to provide a few basic necessities to our four-legged companions in severe cold.

Dogs, specifically, must have access to shelter when it's colder than 40 degrees outside – and it must contain clean, dry bedding.

Animal advocates say while a blanket or towel may seem best, they can retain moisture and make it colder for animals.

RELATED: 'Failed foster parents' start pet rescue organization in Martinsville

Make sure to opt for straw over hay when choosing bedding, because hay decomposes more quickly than straw, and retains misery-inducing moisture for cold pets.

Dogs should also not be tied up or chained outside between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Fines run up to $200 for offenders. 

The state of Indiana does not have the same stipulations as Indianapolis when it comes to weather. However, the state still has authority to intervene in severe cases.

RELATED: Adoptable dog 'asks' Santa for 'furever' home

Several local jurisdictions do have their own ordinances and state officials say you can check in with your local municipality if you have concerns. 

If you're concerned about the safety of an animal in Indianapolis, call the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622. For after-hours emergencies, you can call 317-327-3811. 

Those who need help with supplies or providing for their dog can call Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO) at 317-221-1314.

Here's a full breakdown of the Indianapolis city ordinance, according to FIDO: 


Your dog must have access to:

  • A shelter constructed of solid wood or other weather resistant materials consisting of solid walls on all sides
  • A dry floor raised above the ground
  • A roof sloped away from the entrance to protect your dog from weather and extreme cold
  • Fresh water

Pen or fenced enclosure

  • Your dog must have adequate space for exercise when confined to a kennel, enclosure or pen which must be at least 100 square feet (for example: 10 feet by 10 feet).
  • Any dog over 80 pounds must be provided with a space of 150 square feet.
  • For each additional dog inside the enclosure, an extra 50 square feet must be provided.


It is against the law to tether (chain) your dog if any of the following is true:

  • Your dog is less than 6 months old.
  • Your dog is sick or injured.
  • It is between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Your dog is not spayed or neutered, unless you are an adult, your dog is in your visual range, and you are outside with your dog.

Extreme weather

Your dog must be brought inside a temperature controlled building, such as your house when:

  • The temperature outside is 20°F and below.
  • The temperature outside is 90°F and above.
  • There's a heat advisory.
  • There's a wind chill warning.
  • A tornado warning has been issued.


  • On any day where the temperature is at or above 80°F, your dog's shelter must be shaded by either trees or a tarp.

Symptoms of a heat stroke for a dog include excessive panting and agitation, drooling, glazed eyes, weakness, staggering, and rapid pulse. To treat a heat stroke, apply cold, wet towels to your dog’s head, neck and chest or have dog lie on cool towels. Offer the dog water or ice cubes but do not force them to drink.

You should not leave a pet unattended in a vehicle during hot weather for even a few minutes. Hot pavement can also hurt a dog's paws during a walk.

Before You Leave, Check This Out