United States: Dog Owners in New Jersey Beware-Outdoor Dog Shelters That Comply With Building Codes May Soon Be Required!!

Last Updated: August 17 2015
Article by Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.

A bill introduced in the New Jersey legislature on June 29, 2015 (S-3061) would have far greater effects than merely regulating the tethering of and outdoor shelter for dogs, as the bill synopsis states.

The law would establish what amounts to a building code of sorts for outdoor shelters for dogs. For example, the shelter must be raised off the ground, attached to a foundation, and include a wind break.

A dog owner will be violating this law if they keep their dog outside in their yard for longer than 30 minutes, even if not tethered, under certain weather conditions (like rain) if there is no shelter as required. A "proper outdoor shelter" required for dogs must meet these standards:

(1) The materials used to construct any primary structure pursuant to paragraphs (2) through (5) of this subsection shall not include pressure-treated wood or any other materials that are potentially harmful to the health or safety of a dog, as determined by the Department of Health;

(2) A proper outdoor shelter shall consist of a primary structure with four walls and a roof that is soundly constructed to prevent the sagging or collapsing of any wall or the roof of the primary structure;

(3) The primary structure shall have adequate air circulation and contain

(a) sufficient space so that

(i) there are at least three inches between the ceiling of the structure and the top of the head of the dog when the dog is in a normal standing position inside the primary structure, and

(ii) the dog can easily turn around in a full circle and lie down with limbs outstretched when inside the primary structure, and

(b) dry bedding and insulation of a kind and quantity to meet the health and safety needs of the dog, including, but not limited to, retention of the dog's body heat, based on the outdoor environmental conditions, the size and type of the primary structure and the dog's size, age, and physical condition, and thickness of the dog's hair or fur;

(4) The floor of the primary structure shall not be the ground under the structure or made of coated or uncoated wire, and shall:

(a) be soundly constructed to prevent sagging or collapse of the floor,

(b) be raised at least six inches from the ground and affixed to a foundation, including, but not limited to, a plastic or wooden pallet or concrete blocks, to permit air flow beneath the structure, prevent rain, snow, ice, sleet, hail, and other precipitation from entering the structure, and prevent the structure from being easily tipped or moved, and (c) have no openings through which the paws of the dog could pass when the dog is inside the primary structure;

(5) Between November 1 and April 30, the primary structure shall have a windbreak at its entrance;

(6) A proper outdoor shelter shall be maintained in a manner that minimizes any accumulation of rain, snow, ice, sleet, hail, and other precipitation inside, underneath, and surrounding the primary structure;

(7) A proper outdoor shelter shall provide a reasonably sanitary, obstruction-free environment so that there is minimal accumulation of excreta and other waste and debris inside, underneath, and surrounding the primary structure; and

(8) When the dog is in a proper outdoor shelter, the dog shall have easy access to water that is sanitary and in a liquid state.

The failure of an outdoor shelter to meet the standards of a proper outdoor shelter shall be indicated by:

(1) the unhealthy appearance or physical condition of the dog; or

(2) the appearance of the outdoor shelter, including, but not limited to (a) the small size of the primary structure, (b) evidence of unsound construction, (c) the absence of dry bedding or insulation sufficient to protect the dog from outdoor environmental conditions, (d) evidence of crowding or unsanitary conditions within or outside the outdoor shelter, (e) the absence of water that is sanitary and in a liquid state, or no easy access for the dog to such water; or (f) any other observed condition or circumstance indicating the poor care or health of the dog.

If this is not bad enough, the law permits: the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals; certified animal control officer; or other State or local law enforcement officer to enter someone's property without a warrant, remove a dog, and have it dog euthanized, before the owner is ever contacted.

This section fortunately requires a written assessment by a licensed veterinarian "that the dog is in intractable and extreme pain and beyond any reasonable hope of recovery with reasonable medical treatment” before the dog is euthanized, the dog may be euthanized immediately.


Keep in mind that animal shelters in New Jersey are not permitted to euthanize an animal entering their shelter, even if considered terminal, for at least seven days. But, if this bill is adopted, a dog that is seized from its home, with an readily ascertainably owner, could be euthanized without ever talking with that owner about the dog’s medical history. Keep in mind that there can be numerous plausible explanations for the condition of any animal.

If this bill is adopted without serious amendments it will expose responsible dog owners to potential liability from nosey neighbors, or misinformed unprofessional "SPCA officers" who have been known to exact revenge on pet owners throughout the state who do not abide by their particular standards which often do not align with good animal health and husbandry practices.

I know my dogs have never used the well-constructed dog house we bought for them, albeit not “raised six inches from the ground and affixed to a foundation” and without a “windbreak” or plumbing (which would not be immediately required should this bill become law). They preferred our wrap-around porch or back deck, neither of which would comply with the standards required in this bill. We finally sold the dog-house. Perhaps that was unwise.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions