Winter has ripped through the Mid-west in the form of wind chills and inches of snow, which has lead to record-setting temperatures in Indianapolis. The weather has even been blamed for nine deaths across the U.S. last week. Now, many states are passing stronger laws to ensure that furry friends are protected.

All states have animal cruelty laws, but many do not have specific provisions about leaving pets out in the cold.

While the the Indiana State Board of Animal Health outlines criminal offenses relating to neglect, abandonment, abuse and cruelty of animals, it does not directly refer to any weather-related animal neglect or abuse. 

Phil Peckinpaugh, director of the Muncie Animal Shelter, said that Indiana’s laws are very vague when it comes to people neglecting their pets.

“Indiana is definitely not the worst state as far as protection laws for animals but it’s definitely not one of the best either,” Peckinpaugh said.

While the protection laws remain unclear, Peckinpaugh said the best solution for now is to keep all animals inside, away from the cold. 

If Muncie Animal Care is notified an animal does not have proper food, water or shelter, it will do a welfare check to assess the situation. If dogs are left outside during colder temperatures, and Muncie Animal Care is notified, it will remove the dog and bring it to the Muncie Animal Shelter if they believe the dog is lacking proper shelter.

Owners can be cited for leaving their pets outside during this time.

This story will be updated.