State Responding to Winter-Related Reports of Animal Abuse 

Due to the recent extreme weather, the state’s animal welfare department has been getting numerous reports of possible animal abuse.

“We’ve been working with law enforcement and animal control officers to go out and make sure that all animals are getting the appropriate shelter and care and that they are being well maintained,” said Maine Animal Welfare Director Liam Hughes.

As director of animal welfare for the state, Hughes has seen tragic cases of abuse and neglect. He says he understands how hard it can be to see animals like dogs left outside in the cold.

“Every municipality is required by law to have an animal control officer to respond to complaints of any domesticated animal,” said Hughes.

He suggests making welfare checks on neighbors who seem to be having issues with animals and pets.

“Make sure they are doing fine, that their animals have proper food, water and shelter, because right now, there’s a lot of people that are more concerned about getting heating oil than feeding themselves.”

Maine law requires shelter for outdoor pets and animals. It must have a minimum of three sides with a waterproof roof and needs to be appropriate for the climate.

“It does need to have some sort of bedding to keep it dry, so if they’re not seeing that, they need to report that. There are some dogs that are article breeds that will not go use the house this time of year, but as long as that house is available to them, they are meeting the state requirements,” said Hughes.

When it comes to those requirements, Hughes says there’s always room for improvement.

“But, there’s a balance that we have to find, we have to make sure people can still enjoy their animals and be able to do what they need to do with their animals, but also, we don’t want to have laws that will constrict people so much that they can’t do certain things, so we have to walk that balance.”