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It's hot outside — time for a refresher on Indy's pet laws

Not only is it dangerous to leave pets outside in extreme heat, a city ordinance says it can also be illegal. Here's a breakdown.

INDIANAPOLIS — Sweltering though we may be in this summer heat, our furry friends don't often have the luxury of stepping into AC 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 heat. 

Dogs specifically have to be brought inside when it’s warmer than 90 degrees – and have to have access to shade when temperatures hit above 80 degrees.

Animal advocates also say to watch out for that hot pavement, which can burn paws during walks. You can touch the pavement to check. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them!

Never leave dogs or pets in parked cars where they can die from heat exhaustion. And be aware of signs of heat exhaustion – curled up tongue and heavy panting.

Now, 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.

"If there was an egregious issue that a local law enforcement agency wanted to pursue pertaining to care during a heatwave, the neglect statute, IC 35-46-3, Sec. 7, could be applied," said Denise Spears, spokesperson for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.

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-hour emergencies, you can call 317-327-3811. 

Those who need help with supplies or providing for their dog can call 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: 10ft. x 10ft.)
  • 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 & below
  • The temperature outside is 90°F & above
  • There’s a heat advisory
  • There’s a windchill warning
  • A tornado warning has been issued


  • On any day where the temperature is at or above 80 degrees, 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.

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