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Off Leash: Negligent Pet Owners Get a Frosty Reception

In Carroll County, Maryland, excuses no longer cut ice

Every winter in rural Westminster, Md., animal control officers from the Humane Society of Carroll County get calls about pets left outside with no access to drinkable water. Temperatures often drop into the teens in the area, and the water bowls left outdoors turn into miniature ice rinks—useless to dogs who don’t want to end up with their tongues stuck to the frozen surface.

When officers check in with owners, they usually hear the same defensive reaction: “I just changed his water an hour ago! That water is brand new!” Local laws stipulate that animals kept outdoors during the winter must have access to fresh water, and that the water must be changed at least twice daily. Pet owners tend to shape their excuses around that rule, spinning tales of how their own regular watering has been undermined by the vicious assault of the freezing temperatures.

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