Are you aware of an animal outside without access to a proper shelter? Are you aware of an animal that is thin and doesn't appear healthy? Mother nature is unforgiving. Some owners are negligent for a variety of reasons. If so, report the situation to animal control, the police department or the sheriff's department. Usually, areas outside city limits and some smaller towns do not have animal control. That job falls to the local Sheriffs department. In many cases, rural animals do not have a safety net as do city animals. Cities that have impound facilities usually do not accept animals from outside the city limits. Yes there are facilities - they are just not available to rural dogs and cats. That is unless your a cat - and then you are totally on your own. More and more cities are not impounding cats. It puts a financial burden on the budget and is considered a waste of money.
Emergencies happen - owners leave - owners don't care or don't care enough - freezing rain - extreme cold - etc. etc. What happens if it’s a Holiday, weekend, or the middle of the night? An animal that needs help can’t wait for business hours. Let your local officials know what you expect for your tax dollars and your local animal shelters know what you expect for your donation dollars. As always, be polite and respectful.
Precautions to keep your pets safe:
Thin Ice: Snow can cover thin ice and animals are unaware of the dangers that lie beneath. When on walks, use a leash and keep animals off bodies of water. Ice thickness on moving bodies of water is dubious at best even in cold weather. Cold temperatures can give a false sense of security. If your pets falls through the ice, cold water on cold days can cause hypothermia - a dangerous chilling of the body. If your pet falls through, he may not be able to climb out. He could drown.
Icy surfaces are as dangerous for your older pet as they are for you. Arthritis limits mobility and creates a greater danger for slipping which can result in injury.
Chemicals: Store household chemicals in pet proof cabinets or bins. Clean up spills immediately. Antifreeze smells sweet and animals are attracted to it. Antifreeze is extremely poisonous and a few teaspoons can be lethal. A tiny amount ingested causes fatal kidney toxicity.
When walking your dog, wipe salt off the pads of its feet when you return. Salt and other melting chemicals can be toxic. For your personal use, consider using a nontoxic ice melter.
Ice and snow balls can collect between the toes of your pets feet. This can cause pain and injury to the feet. Trimming the long hair from the bottoms of the feet may help prevent problems with snowballs.
Food and Water: Ice and snow are no substitute for water. Give your pets a steady supply of clean drinking water - especially if they stay outside. Food can also become trapped in dishes as snow melts and refreezes. Plastic food and water containers freeze and crack. Use heated buckets or bowls with chew safe cords designed for use with animals. In cold weather, your pets will need approximately one third more food in order to generate body heat.
Frostbite: Your pets feet, ears, and other body parts are susceptible to frostbite. Frostbite occurs when a portion of the body freezes. Frostbitten areas can die and may fall off or have to be amputated. Frostbitten skin is pale and cool to the touch. It may look burned after thawing. The thawing process is very painful. Warm the affected body parts very slowly. Take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Shelter: A shelter should be insulated and just large enough for your pet to lie down comfortably. A shelter that's too big won't keep your pet warm and in severe weather could expose him to hypothermia and frostbite.
Cars: Bang on the hood of your car or honk the horn before staring the engine. Many animals - including cats - will sneak up under car hoods to get the benefits of residual heat from the engine. Banging on the hood or honking the horn will give the animal a chance to get out. The inside of a vehicle looses heat rapidly providing pets little protection from the cold. Animals left in parked cars can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia. Lesser amounts of cold can be extremely painful if the animal is older or has arthritis. Leave your pet home instead.
Boredom: Cats and Dogs are social creatures. They want to be with us or at least have company and not be left alone. They can become bored and engage in nuisance behaviors. Dogs can start excessive barking and outdoor cats can start hanging on window screens or trying to sneak in. If keeping them indoors is not an option, have a warm dry place for them to stay when the temperature drops. A garage is one option. Don't use portable heaters in unsupervised locations. Don't run your car in the garage either because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Pets that live outdoors need routine care. They need to be groomed and played with on a daily basis. Fur becomes matted and tangled more during winter. Fur that is matted and ungroomed is less able to retain body heat and cannot adequately protect your pet from the elements. Above all, your pet needs care. No dog deserves to live its life on the end of a chain or confined to a kennel. Consider it a life of solitary confinement.
Some animals do survive outside but they live a miserable existence. If you have any doubts whether it is too cold to keep your pets outdoors, err on the side of caution and keep him indoors. Shivering is a clear sign that your pet is too cold and indicates the potential onset of hypothermia.