By: Andrea Sears
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Animal rights advocates are reminding pet owners that cold weather can be fatal to dogs and cats that remain outside.
Many people keep their pets in backyard enclosures or tied to dog houses, even during the winter.
But like humans, pets can suffer from deadly frostbite and exposure and can experience dehydration if their drinking water freezes.
Last winter, at least 50 cold weather animal deaths were reported nationwide, but most deaths are not reported at all.
According to Kaleigh Rhoads, a campaign coordinator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), pets already are at risk in Pennsylvania this year.
“Just this week in Fayette County, a dog was found left outside in 26-degree weather and police are currently filing charges for animal cruelty on that case,” she relates.
Rhoads urges pet owners to bring their animals inside if possible when the weather is cold.
If animals cannot be brought into the house, then Rhoads says owners are responsible for making sure they have adequate shelter outside of the house.
“A legal shelter in cold weather must be raised off the ground and completely waterproof, properly sized so the animal can stand and turn around while still retaining their body heat, have a protected entrance, dry bedding, and should be placed in an area where it will have the best protection from the wind and cold,” she states.
Rhoads adds that animals may need extra food in the winter if they’re burning more calories to keep warm.
Rhoads wants everyone to be aware that pet ownership comes with legal obligations, and protecting pets from severe weather is one of them.
“These dogs and cats are required by law to have adequate shelter,” she stresses. “So if you see an animal who has inadequate shelter or none at all, please report it to the authorities.”
More information and tips for cold-weather care of animals is available online at PETA.org.