JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Elizabethton-Carter County and Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelters said new state requirements on outdoor shelters for dogs will allow them to work with owners on how to better care for their pets.

Tennessee lawmakers have created an amendment defining requirements on shelters for dogs kept outdoors.

This amendment is sponsored by two local lawmakers, Representative John Crawford (R – Kingsport) and Senator Jon Lundberg (R – Bristol).

It defines requirements previously left up to owners’ interpretation. Some of these requirements include:

  • Shelter must be constructed of sound material, with a roof, and can protect the animal from inclement weather
  • Shelter allows the animal to stand up comfortably
  • Shelter allows the animal to retain normal body heat in both the colder and warmer months of the year

“Defining the law that was just passed is actually to help the living conditions of these animals that are outside,” said Director of the Elizabethton-Carter County Animal Shelter, Shannon Posada. “Believe me, we’ve seen enough living conditions inside that it’s not even fit for a roach to live in.”

Posada said she’s had plenty of situations she’s gone to where dogs did not have adequate shelter.

“We had a situation that we went to, the chain was frozen to the ground,” said Posada. “The deputy and I worked and worked and worked and we finally had to cut the chain from the dog and just take the dog. Right beside of it, there was a pig that had frozen to death.”

The Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter said it’s seen poor outdoor living conditions for dogs too.

“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for my animal control officers to go on welfare checks on dogs,” said Executive Director of the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter Tammy Davis. “And to that person, they felt like that was adequate shelter for that animal, but really it was not sufficient.”

The problem with not specifying these shelter requirements is that everyone had their own interpretation, said Washington County Animal Control Officer, Amanda White. She said she feels like this change will help make her job easier.

“We get so many calls about dogs living outside,” said White. “And that will also educate everyone else on what to look for, so it could lower the number of calls we get for welfare checks. And then it’s going to make it easier for owners to comply after we educate them as well.”

Davis says education is the root remedy in this amendment.

“Our goal is not to come and remove that dog from their home,” said Davis. “We want to educate the community. We want to help them when we can. If we want to help them provide adequate shelter for their dog, a correct dog house, that is what we’re going to do.”

The amendment has been sent to Governor Bill Lee to be signed into law and is expected to go into effect on July 1.

If you believe there is a dog that is not receiving adequate outdoor shelter, you can contact your local animal shelter to reach an animal control officer.

You can read more about the amendment here.