ST. LOUIS -- Take one step outside-- and you'll find out real quick that it's absolutely frigid out there. It's not just cold for humans-- it's cold for pets too. That's why you'll often hear 5 On Your Side meteorologist Chester Lampkin say to keep your pets inside.

During our newscast on Tuesday, viewer Sheri Verges posted on our Facebook page that she thinks it's illegal to leave your dogs outside in the extreme weather. So, we wanted to VERIFY what the animal care laws are in Missouri and Illinois.

We went to the Humane Society of Missouri for answers and spoke to Annie McLaughlin. She says there is no law that makes it illegal to leave your pet outside in the cold weather, and that the current law is vague. McLaughlin says the law only states that animals have to have adequate food, water, and shelter. But, the Humane Society says to follow the guideline: "IF ITS UNDER 35, BRING YOUR PET INSIDE."

“That way, you know 100% that they are just fine and that they're not potentially able to access their shelter and are protected from all the elements,” McLaughlin said.

Over in Illinois, it's much of the same. 5 On Your Side spoke to the Stacy Bill at the Humane Society of Central Illinois. She referenced the Humane Care for Animals Act section 3 which states owners duties include adequate food, water, and shelter. However, this act takes the law a step further and says “No owner shall leave a dog or cat in extreme heat or cold conditions that may result in injury.”

So, we can verify there are no laws in the state of Missouri against leaving pets outside in the cold, but it's highly recommended you don't. In Illinois, the answer is a little more unclear and could be left up to legal interpretation.

If you are interested in donating dog houses to Gateway Pet Guardians to help keep other pets safe, click here.

If you have something we should verify, send an email to, or post on the KSDK Facebook page.