Having passed a law in December 2017 that bans chaining dogs outdoors overnight, Bexley City Council is considering further changes to its code that addresses cruelty to animals.

At their Feb. 19 meeting, Bexley City Council members held the first reading of Ordinance 6-19, which, if approved, would ban “the confinement of dogs and other animals outdoors without proper shelter” when left unattended for more than 15 minutes.

“What we mean, colloquially, is that an animal is housed in the backyard for a large extent of time. It might be overnight or throughout the day,” said Councilman Troy Markham, chairman of council’s Service and Environmental Committee, who introduced the ordinance.

“The definition includes what we consider to be ‘unattended,’ as opposed to animal that’s just let out for recreation. … Fifteen minutes is sort of considered what you let a dog in and out for, depending on the weather,” he said.

Markham said the definition of “unattended” was drawn from similar ordinances in other municipalities.

“I did send this to Ohio Humane Society and got their feedback, too,” Markham said.

The ordinance specifies that when pet owners keep animals outside, they must provide “access to shelter from wind, rain, snow or excessive direct sunlight if it can be reasonably expected that the animal would otherwise become sick or in some other way suffer.”

The ordinance goes on to state that “the shelter must be a constructed structure that must be completely enclosed and insulated, having a single entrance/exit secured with a flap or door or similar device. The structure shall be moisture-resistant, wind-resistant, and of suitable size and type to allow the animal to stand, turn about freely, lie in a normal position, and regulate proper body temperature. The structure shall not be constructed of metal or any material that readily conducts heat or cold, and shall be made of a durable material with a solid, moisture-proof floor that is raised at least 2 inches from the ground.”

Councilwoman Mary Gottesman suggested the ordinance should be amended to restrict animals from being left unattended for intervals less than 15 minutes.

“If they’re exposed to the elements – rain, snow, very cold temperatures – I think 15 minutes is too long,” Gottesman said.

Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said animals’ needs for shelter vary by breed.

“I agree that there are things that need to be considered and honed” in the ordinance, he said, “but also we need to be realistic that there are lots of very responsible dog owners in this city that would let their dog be outside and in control in the fenced-in backyard on a beautiful day without needing an outdoor kennel.”

Markham said he has asked a humane society representative to be present for council’s second reading of the legislation, to provide more insight and answer council members’ questions.

The second reading is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 12 at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.