PET OWNERS SHOULD AVOID LEAVING ANIMALS OUTSIDE IN BRUTAL COLD
Source: Mansfield News Journal (Extract)
Posted: February 19, 2021
Linda Chambers, executive director at the Humane Society of Richland County, said the shelter received a particularly disturbing call Wednesday morning.
“It was zero degrees, and a dog was laying in the snow,” Chambers said of the call.
She said the humane society has taken many such calls in recent weeks because of the brutal cold that has gripped the area.
Because Ohio does not have any anti-tethering laws, people can leave their pets outside.
“It’s not illegal,” Chambers said. “We do a well-being check. Other than that, we cannot mandate for people to take their dogs in the house, though that’s what we want.
“The perception that we can come out and yank people’s dogs — we can’t unless the dog is in imminent danger.”
Missy Houghton, deputy dog warden for Richland County, agreed.
“We don’t really enforce, but it’s always important to educate people so they can be the best pet owners possible,” she said.
According to Dr. Jordan Phillips of Phillips Animal Hospital, different breeds handle cold differently. Breeds such as the Akita, Chow Chow and Siberian husky are more equipped for winter weather than, say, a pit bull or a Chihuahua.
“Anything below 20 degrees, it would be important to have them inside, especially at night,” Phillips said. “For some dogs, it’s 40 degrees.”
Chambers took it a step further.
“If we go outside and we’re cold, that means our animals are cold, too,” she said. “Use common sense and compassion.”
Dr. Phillips said dogs can suffer from hypothermia, the same as people. Symptoms include shivering, whining and lethargy.
Brooke Rossi, media coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said at least 37 companion animals died from the cold in 2019 in the United States and Canada.
“Those are just the ones that were reported,” she said by email. “Most are not.”
Pet owners who do not bring their dogs inside during the cold can still do their part to make life a bit more comfortable.
“The biggest thing is to make accommodations for them, especially during this freeze,” Houghton said. “There’s not many enclosures that would keep dogs from suffering from extreme cold.”
She also suggests some type of windbreaker, such as a flap over the front of the dog house.
In addition, Houghton recommends straw for any enclosure.
“Blankets freeze,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of people think of that.”
Houghton told dog owners to provide extra food for calories, as well as access to fresh water.
Linda Swisher, who has served as a humane society board member, also said houses should be a match for the dog size-wise.
She suggested bringing dogs inside for good, no matter the weather conditions. Swisher was part of a movement led by then-Councilman Donnie Bryant in 2015 to ban the tethering of dogs in Mansfield city limits.
The measure failed because council members said there was no money in the budget for an animal control officer.
“They just exist. For what reason, I’m not sure,” Swisher said of dogs chained outside. “I’m getting calls about dogs on very short chains, some as short as 3 feet. They would be standing in their own excrement.”
Swisher said stray cats can at least search for shelter in cold weather.
“A dog that’s chained is in prison,” she said. “It’s stuck.”
For more information on how to help animals this winter, visit www.peta.org/features/animal-companions-winter-freeze-death.
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