A new bill was signed recently that stated a person could be punished by law if they left their dog’s out in severe weather for more than 20 minutes. Although House Bill 1238 is currently enforced in Pennsylvania, it’s only a matter of time before we see this enacted in other states considering the number of “dog lovers” who serve as leaders in the House.
What’s the punishment for leaving your animals outside in weather that’s 32 degrees below or 90 degrees over for too long?
You could find yourself paying up to $15,000 or spending up to 7 years in jail! Although this is a great achievement for those, who value the lives of animals everywhere, what about the value of the lives of people who are homeless and unable to find shelter during those same severe weather days? Who should be punished for allowing actual human beings to remain in the cold, but not dogs? It’s a question that should be asked.
During a 10-year period, from 2003-2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded more than 13,400 deaths among the homeless from exposure to unsafe temperatures. Many homeless individuals die from hypothermia as their body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and the number continues to rise as the number of homeless people continues to grow. What about shelters for the homeless, you might ask?
That isn’t always a solution considering the National Coalition for the Homeless shared that over 34% of overnight homeless shelters nationwide that aren’t even open during the day, and 24% of the shelters refuse those homeless people who are visibly drunk. This means that there’s a massive number of individuals who are not going to receive the shelter that they need to protect them from severe weather, be it hot or cold.
This is a problem because we have yet, as a nation, to come up with a viable solution that can solve this very pressing problem. Instead, we create legislation that protects dogs from dying in severe weather. There are no laws that protect homeless people from being harmed during severe weather, yet we continue to ignore the need to solve this very pressing issue.
We can create a multitude of excuses surrounding why it’s easier to protect dogs than it is to protect the homeless. One might state that dogs have owners, so the owners are legally responsible for them. That’s fair. But then I would add that the homeless individuals are citizens of the United States and, as such, were promised to be protected with laws, rules, and regulations that would serve their best interest.
Those who are elected officials within certain states made a vow to protect and serve the interest of the people in their district. If this is so, then why are they not held accountable when the people in their district include homeless people who are dying on the street due to severe weather?
Protecting the rights of animals is something that is noble and humane. Protecting the rights of human beings is something that is required and just. It’s too bad that we, as a people, are beginning to get the two confused.