Dog left in Kent County

This dog was found buried in his doghouse last week after a snow storm. The owner did not break any rules because the dog had access to food, water and shelter. (Nicole Thebeau/Submitted)

The New Brunswick SPCA is pushing for stricter laws for dog owners who tether their animals and leave them outside.

Last week, a dog in Kent County was left tied to its doghouse during a snow storm.

According to some witnesses, the animal was trapped inside its doghouse by blowing snow. A passerby dug the dog out and then called the SPCA.

But in New Brunswick, current rules allow animals to be left outside 24 hours a day, as long as their basic needs, such as access to food, water and shelter, are met. So the dog's owner did not break any laws.

Hilary Howes, the executive director of the New Brunswick SPCA, said the rules need to be changed and his organization is proposing new standards.

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The New Brunswick SPCA would like new rules on how long, and under what conditions, animals can be tethered outside.

"We believe there should be limits on the tethering and we have a document before government recommending the changes that we believe are necessary," Howes said.

One of the changes being proposed by the New Brunswick SPCA is an end to tethering animals outside at night.

“We want people to be cognizant that in cold weather that there are restrictions on tethering, you may go beyond that yourself and bring your dog in when it's showing any signs of distress,” Howes said.

Other citizens pushing for new rules

It isn’t only the provincial SPCA that is backing new restrictions on tethering animals outside.

Rita Bihr, a member of a group called People for Stronger Animal Protection, said she is also opposed to unlimited tethering.

Bihr said small- and medium-sized dogs should be brought inside when it's below 0 C and -10 C for larger breeds.

“The law reads that an animal right now cannot be seized to be protected. An animal must unfortunately be already hurt or under distress,” Bihr said.

Bihr said animal rights advocates will continue to circulate petitions and lobby the government until changes are made.