Rain, snow, sleet, ice, thunderstorms, high winds, brutally cold, brutally hot... There are some Lawton pets that are left outside to just deal with it in my neighborhood.

Particularly a young German Sheppard at a house just a few blocks over from me. It seems cruel especially since there's no dog house within that chain-link yard to allow it even the smallest amount of shelter.

When I go to work, it sits right at the gate watching the world go by. When I'm headed back home, it's still there as if it never moved. Even on the coldest of nights, even Tuesday as the snow fell across Southwest Oklahoma.

I've often wondered exactly what kind of legal trouble I could potentially get in if I just hopped out of my car and took that dog home with me. I know it's technically theft and theft is always wrong, but it feels like the right thing to do for the animal.

Don't get me wrong, I understand outside dogs. Growing up on the farm, dogs lived outdoors year-round. They weren't so much family members as they were farm tools like horses and tractors. Their job was to help with the cattle and they did... but just because there weren't allowed in the house didn't mean they were left out in the elements. Even the coldest-hearted ranchers provide proper shelter for their working animals.

I've looked all around the City of Lawton website and can't quite find anything requiring proper shelter for all pets in Lawton. I know there has to be something on the books about it, and odds are the unpaid intern that was coerced into making the extremely basic website probably just forgot that part.

If you look at the Lawton Animal Welfare FAQ's, all pet owners are required to provide their pets an "adequate enclosed space" but that only refers to fencing. It even addresses "chaining" your pets inside city limits. If that's not allowed, why isn't shelter specifically mentioned also?

Even Texas finally wrapped up this very topic in 2021. If you own a pet in Texas and it spends time outside, you have to provide it with a proper shelter in the event of hazardous weather. It's a misdemeanor in animal cruelty to not provide shelter.

Again, it probably is. It would take an absolute bunch of idiots running the city to ban chains and define proper fencing but forget to set minimum shelter requirements...

The point being, if you have pets, do what's right by them. There's no reason a dog should have to spend the night huddled under an evergreen tree in your own backyard trying to stay out of the snow. Allowing that to happen is criminal.

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