MESQUITE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The North Texas heat wave is the first test of a Mesquite city ordinance that mandates pets be indoors during extreme temperatures or owners could face a $500 fine.

The city says its new ordinance aims to prevent dogs from being left outside in extremely hot weather for hours with no shade, water or food.

“I haven’t heard (of) that, but that’s common sense; you should know to do that,” said Mesquite pet owner Diane Ellis.

But CBS11 saw dogs in Mesquite outside with no water or shelter when it was 109 degrees on Friday.

“It’s definitely cruel,” said Mesquite resident Paul Rat. “It’s hot. They said it was like record heat. It’s definitely abuse on animals for sure.”

Mesquite’s pet ordinance just became law a few weeks ago. It applies to extremely hot weather, cold weather and tornados.

“If we are under an excessive heat warning, which we are here in North Texas today, and then on the cold side for the national weather service issues a freeze warning, those are the thresholds or the triggers,” said Raymond Rivas of the city of Mesquite.

The ordinance says dogs must have permanent shelter, be that a shaded patio, a covered dog house/kennel or access to the home through a doggie door. Shade provided by a tree or by a house as the sun moves doesn’t count as permanent shelter. Dogs must also have food and water.

“Our staff will be looking for these violations, however, if a resident has a concern, maybe they’re driving by… they see an animal that is concerning to them, they should call our animal services division,” said Rivas. 

Because this is a new law in Mesquite, the city says it’s using this heat wave to teach pet owners about it.

People won’t be cited unless there is another form of abuse happening. Come winter, the city will start ticketing people up to a $500 fine for leaving pets outside during bitter cold.

MaryAnn Martinez