Minimum requirements for keeping pets outdoors leave DC dog out in the cold

WASHINGTON — Neighbors, concerned about a dog left outside in subfreezing temperatures in Northwest D.C., are upset and wondering why more couldn’t be done to help the dog someone nicknamed Momma.

In a video taken by Drew Schneider of PetworthNews.org, the dog stands outside a wooden doghouse and shivers in the cold, her rear legs quaking underneath her.

At the time of the recording, Schneider noted that an orange bucket was filled with ice — presumably put there as a water bowl before the frigid weather hit — and a bag of unopened dog food sat covered in snow outside the chain link fence that contained the dog and its shelter.

One area resident, familiar with the dog’s condition, told WTOP that neighbors are “completely fed up with the dog’s mistreatment.” Residents who were worried about the dog were reluctant to be identified, noting that the owner of the home had been arrested Monday afternoon — on charges not related to the dog’s case — and they’re concerned about possible retaliation.

Neighbors said they contacted D.C.’s Humane Rescue Alliance, whose humane officers are charged with enforcing the District’s animal control regulations.

Neighbors said they’ve been monitoring the dog’s condition over the weekend and that by Monday morning, Momma had been left outside for 72 hours.

Momma, a pitbull-type dog, has been left outside in sub-freezing temperatures in Northwest D.C. (Courtesy PetworthNews.org)
Momma, a pitbull-type dog, has been left outside in subfreezing temperatures in Northwest D.C. (Courtesy PetworthNews.org)

Matt Williams, spokesman for the Humane Rescue Alliance, issued a statement Monday that sought to explain the limits of D.C. law regarding adequate housing for animals kept outside. D.C. regulations state that animals left outside must have protection from the weather with “proper food, drink, air light, space,” but just how that far that protection from the elements should go is open to some interpretation.

Williams’ statement said the wooden doghouse with straw inside and food and water containers nearby met the minimum requirements of shelter for a dog kept outdoors. Since the conditions didn’t violate D.C. regulations, there was nothing more humane officers could do. Williams noted that the video was “difficult” to watch.

By late Monday afternoon, the dog was no longer in the dog pen; residents saw her owner leading her into the home by her owner. Williams said in the statement from the Humane Rescue Alliance that the organization is continuing to “closely monitor this developing situation.”

The same area resident who spoke to WTOP said another dog at the same residence disappeared after being kept in similar conditions by the same owner at the Randolph Street property. In that case, the fawn-colored pit bull named Princess appeared underfed and lived in a plastic airport travel crate — the type that’s ventilated on all sides with no protection from wind.

After neighbors complained to HRA (then the Washington Humane Society), Princess disappeared. That was in March 2016. In August, Momma took her place in the chain-link dog pen, with a wooden shelter instead of the travel crate.

Below is the video of Momma taken by PetworthNews.org:

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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