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Syracuse lawmakers pass law to punish dog owners who leave animals outside in extreme temperatures

Giorgio Quattrone

Syracuse lawmakers  voted unanimously Monday to protect animals left outside in extreme temperatures. The legislation, called Adrian’s Law, passed at the city level, after Onondaga County lawmakers rejected it earlier this year.

Common Councilors unanimously approved the legislation, named after a pit bull that died after being tied up outside in below freezing temperatures in January.  

Jason Driscoll is the dog control officer who found him.

“I was there the night before and I asked the woman to bring it in. And she didn’t. And there was nothing more I could do but ask her to bring the dog in,” said Driscoll.

From now on, Driscoll will be able to cite dog owners who don’t comply with requests, and take the animal somewhere safe. 

“This gives us a little teeth to say ‘bring it in, or there will be consequences’,” said Driscoll. “Before, we just did it out of the kindness of our heart, and now for people who aren’t compliant, there are going to be consequences.”

It’s a law that failed to make it through the Onondaga County legislature earlier this year, after a flurry of complaints from special interest groups.

Common Councilor Susan Boyle, who sponsored the city legislation, said she got very little push back. There were some concerns about the length of time a dog could be left outside. The city legislation stipulates no more than two hours below 30 degrees or above 90 degrees. So that time frame will be revisited.

“After a year, six months, if our enforcement officers feel that was an adequate amount of time, if they were able to rescue some animals, if they were able to use it a tool they want it to be, or if they feel it should be shortened, that’s something we could do,” Boyle said.

Dog owners who violate the law could face jail time and fines up to $500.