Minimum Requirements for Keeping Pets Outdoors Leave One DC Dog Out in the Cold

WASHINGTON — Neighbors, concerned about a dog left outside in subfreezing temperatures in Northwest D.C., are upset and wondering why more couldn’t be done to help the dog that someone nicknamed “Momma.”

In a video taken by Drew Schneider of, the female pitbull-type dog stands outside a wooden doghouse and shivers in the cold, her rear legs quaking underneath her.

At the time of the recording, Schneider noted that an orange bucket was filled with ice — presumably put there as a water bowl before the frigid weather hit — and a bag of unopened dog food sat covered in snow outside the chain link fence that contained the dog and its shelter.

One area resident, familiar with the dog’s condition, told WTOP that neighbors are “completely fed up with the dog’s mistreatment.” Residents who were worried about the dog were reluctant to be identified, noting that the owner of the home had been arrested Monday afternoon — on charges not related to the dog’s case — and there are concerns about possible retaliation.

Neighbors said they contacted D.C.’s Humane Rescue Alliance, which staffs humane officers who are charged with enforcing the District’s animal control regulations.

Neighbors said they’ve been monitoring the dog’s condition over the weekend and that by Monday morning, “Momma” had been left outside for 72 hours.

Momma, a pitbull-type dog, has been left outside in sub-freezing temperatures in Northwest D.C. (Courtesy
Momma, a pitbull-type dog, has been left outside in subfreezing temperatures in Northwest D.C. (Courtesy

Contacted Monday about the case, Matt Williams, spokesman for the Humane Rescue Alliance, issued a statement that sought to explain the limits of D.C. law regarding adequate housing for animals kept outside. D.C. regulations state that animals left outside must have protection from the weather with “proper food, drink, air light, space,” but just how that far that “protection” from the elements should go is left to some interpretation.

According to Williams’ statement, the wooden doghouse with straw inside and food and water containers nearby met the minimum requirements of shelter for a dog kept outdoors. Since the conditions didn’t violate D.C. regulations, there was nothing more humane officers could do. At the same time, Williams noted that the video was “difficult” to watch.

By late Monday afternoon, “Momma” was no longer in the dog pen, she’d been spotted being led into the home by her owner by area residents. Williams said in the statement from the Humane Rescue Alliance that the organization is continuing to “closely monitor this developing situation.”

The same area resident who spoke to WTOP said there’s added concern because another dog at the same residence disappeared after being kept in similar conditions by the same owner at the Randolph Street property. In that case, the fawn-colored pit bull, “Princess,” appeared underfed and lived in a plastic airport travel crate — the type that’s ventilated on all sides with no protection from wind.

After neighbors complained to HRA (then the Washington Humane Society) Princess disappeared. That was in March 2016. In August, Momma took her place in the chain-link dog pen, with a wooden shelter instead of the travel crate.

Below is the video of Momma taken by

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