Outdoor Sheltering

Adverse Environmental Conditions: It is unlawful to expose any dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal to adverse environmental conditions for more than 30 minutes, unless the animal has continuous access to proper shelter as set forth below. The act also specifies tethering requirements and what constitutes "adverse environmental conditions." The law advises on corrective actions to be taken before issuing punitive summonses to the pet owner. (C.4:22-17.1 Definitions relative to care, tethering of certain animals)

  • Adverse Environmental Conditions means any of the following:
    • 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, or 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above
    • Exposure to direct sunlight, hot pavement, or any other hot surfaces that would pose a risk to the health or safety of the animal: cold weather or precipitation-related environmental conditions, including, but not limited to, wind, rain, snow, ice, sleet, or hail

Prohibited Tethering and Restraints: (C.4:22-17.3 Unlawful to cruelly restrain a dog)

  • It is illegal to tether a dog in any of the following manners:
    • With a tether on which more than one dog is restrained
    • With a tether less than 15 feet in length or which doesn't permit the dog to walk at least 15' in a direction
      • Note: does not apply if person in position to care for animal is present with the animal at all times, or can see the animal at all times, or can see the animal at all times. This law does not apply to transport, shows, or if indoors
    • With a tether that permits the dog to reach another dog or an object or location that poses a risk of entanglement, strangulation, drowning, or other harm to the health or safety of the dog
      • Note: does not apply if person in position to care for animal is present with the animal at all times, or can see the animal at all times. This law does not apply to transport, shows, or if indoors
    • In a manner that exposes the dog to adverse environmental conditions for more than 30 minutes
    • With the use of a choke collar, prong collar, head harness, a chain with metal links that are more than one quarter of an inch thick, or a tether, collar, or harness to which a weight is attached
    • In a manner that prevents the dog's access to sanitary and liquid water when the dog is tethered more than 30 minutes
    • If the dog is a nursing female, or is less than four months old
    • Outdoors between the hours of 11pm and 5am

Proper Outdoor Shelter Requirements: (C.4:22-17.5 Proper shelter for certain animals)

  • Proper shelter must at all times:
    • Be adequately ventilated so animal remains dry and maintains a normal body temperature
    • Upright position
    • Allow animal access to clean, potable water, and exposure to natural or artificial light per a regular cycle of day and night. Be soundly constructed, in good repair, no sharp points or edges, maintained from waste and debris.
    • Provide sufficient space for animal to easily turn around in a full circle and lie down on its side with limbs outstretched, and when the animal is in a normal sitting position, the top of the animal's head cannot touch the shelter ceiling. Must be reasonably away from flood areas, be cleared of snow, precipitation, and debris.
    • MUST HAVE A FLOOR, insulation to maintain normal body temperature, and if under 32 degrees, a windbreak.
  • Proper shelter DOES NOT include a crawl space, under a vehicle, a structure made with pressure treated wood containing arsenic or chromium, or with a wire, chain link type construction, or one made from materials that can easily denigrate from the elements. Even if shelter requirements are met, if the size, type condition or type of animal puts the animal in danger of the elements, and normal body temperature cannot be maintained, it can be ordered to be taken inside.

While animal control officers (ACOs) and humane police (HLEOs) are primarily tasked with enforcement, state law gives authority to any local law enforcement official to enforce these provisions of Title 4 in the event ACOs or HLEOs are not available!

Enforcement of the law's provisions: (C.4:22-17.7)

  • A person shall be issued a correction warning prior to being cited for a violation of this act unless there is reasonable assumption of the responding law enforcement officer that the animal's life is in imminent danger, in which case the animal can be immediately seized
  • If not immediately seized, a court of competent jurisdiction may issue upon request an order to any law enforcement officer to enter onto the property and take physical custody of the animal upon showing probable cause of a violation of this act and submission of proof of issuance of a summons
  • A summons shall be served on the alleged violator as soon as practicable if: (1) after the seven days have elapsed from the date a correction warning is issued, no correction has been made; or (2) the animal was seized immediately pursuant to the above imminent danger (subsection b of this law)

Upon taking physical custody of the animal:

  • The person taking physical custody of the animal shall: (1) post immediately, in a conspicuous place at the location from which the animal was taken, and (2) send by registered or certified mail and by ordinary mail notice which contains the following:
    • A description of the animal seized, and state the animal could be euthanized as a medical necessity if, upon a veterinarian's written determination, because the animal is in intractable and extreme pain and beyond any reasonable hope of recovery with reasonable veterinary medical treatment.
    • Statement of the statutory authority and reason for taking custody of the animal and provide contact information, including at least the name of any applicable entity, the name of a person that entity, and a telephone number, and the location where it was impounded.
  • If the alleged violator is not the owner of the animal, the person issuing the correction warning or summons, as applicable, shall also notify the owner of the animal of the violation and provide the owner with a copy of the issued correction warning or summons
  • If physical custody is taken, the animal shall be placed in a licensed shelter, pound or kennel operating as a shelter or pound to ensure the humane care and treatment of the animal. At any time while the licensed shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound has custody or control of the animal, it may place the animal in an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home if it determines the placement is in the best interest of the animal.
  • A summons shall include a description of the violation and statutory authority used, and contact info for the issuing entity. Additional notices must be provided as specified in subsection h of the law.

Disclaimer: This is not a legal document and solely intended to provide NJ residents a 'quick reference' summary of the new low. Please refer to the statute and state legislative website for the full text of the law, which you can find at the link below. Anyone who believes there is a violation occurring should first contact the local police department or local animal control officer.