Keeping Pets Safe During Winter Months
psst! if you just came here to find out what to do to help pets left out in the cold, scroll about 2/3 of the way down to find step-by-step instructions!
how many of us have seen those posts on facebook with captions that say, “if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them!” with a picture of a sad puppy or kitty outside in the snow?
the thing is…those posts are telling the truth.
let’s think about this for a sec: if it’s too cold for you – someone who is probably wearing a puffy winter coat and goofy (warm) boots you got on sale at macy’s or something – it’s too cold for them – a pet, who only has their fur on their back, no puffy winter coat, and no boots on their feet to keep them warm.
some will say, “but they were built for this kind of thing! that’s what their fur is for!” *eye roll*
no. dude, just no. un-roll your eyes from the back of your head, because you are mother puppin wrong, my friend.
pets. are. not. meant. to. be. left. out. in. the. cold.
most of us already know this. most of us are responsible pet owners. if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those people (and you rock, by the way. keep up the good work at being really, really awesome!).
but there are sooo many people out there who are not. they’re the type of people who only had “outside dogs” or “barn cats” growing up, and they still think that pets belong outside 24/7, no matter the weather. they think that because they’re animals, they can fend for themselves just like wolves and deer and reindeer and rainbow unicorns (seriously). they tether them to a tree, refuse to give them shelter or a warm, dry bed to sleep on. they expect them to curl up on the frozen ground or on top of the snow and be content with it. they don’t see their pets as members of the family, they see them as property. property that doesn’t deserve their care or attention. and if you tell them otherwise, they get mad.
but here’s the thing: we’re not going to be able to change those people. they don’t like being told what to do, they think they know what they’re doing, and they don’t care what you say. we can’t fix them.
but just because they’re a big heaping pile of poo doesn’t mean that YOU – the super smart, incredibly caring human that you are – should sit back and let a neglected animal be left out in the cold simply because their owner is a mother puppin’ moron.
that is all the more reason for YOU to know what to do – and be able to do it! – when you come across an animal left out in the cold that is desperate for help.
leaving a pet out in the cold to suffer is considered neglect in all 50 states.
the humane society of the united states says that “the act of leaving a pet outside without food or adequate shelter often receives less attention than a violent attack against an animal, but neglect is a crime.”
and this might make you sad when you read it, but according to the humane society of the US, but i have to share:
“an animal without proper shelter can also quickly succumb to extreme heat or cold. during extremely cold spells or hot periods, it is not uncommon for animal control officers to find companion animals—often chained dogs—literally frozen to the ground or dead from heat prostration because of lack of proper shelter from the elements. often these animals perish only feet away from the homes in which their caretakers live.”
this is awful! SO AWFUL! why is this kind of thing happening? why are people so careless? so heartless?!
it’s up to us to step up and say something – and say it loud!!! – when we see an animal left out in the cold to fend for themselves.
but how long is too long to leave a pet outside?
just this evening we saw a piece on the news about keeping pets safe during the winter. “don’t leave them outside for longer than absolutely necessary,” they said.
but what is considered longer than “absolutely necessary?” in my opinion…
- …it’s longer than the amount of time you are outside with your pet, on a leash or whatever, waiting for them to go #2 in the yard.
- …it’s longer than your normal run around the neighborhood, with your pup in tow (or in front pulling you along – if they’re into that kinda stuff, lol!).
when it’s cold as pup outside, “longer than necessary” is one minute longer than the amount of time you stay outside with your pet, doing an activity together (like going on a brisk walk or going for a sniff together around the yard, because #OMGSquirrels!).
for some dogs, even that can even be too long (like me, for example), and they need coats to keep warm while running around the block to make yellow snow.
so, what do i do if i find a pet left out in the cold?
we did some research on this, and after reviewing a gazillion articles, we can break it down for you into a few simple steps:
take notice of a pet who is suffering outside in the cold.
don’t ignore the situation or brush it off as something somebody else will notice and do something about. someone else probably already came along who thought that same thing. be the “somebody else” who does something about it.
pause. grab a pen and paper, or that nifty computer thing you keep in your pocket (ahem, your cell phone, people!). take note of the date, time, exact location, and a description of the animals involved and the environment they are in. if you can take a picture or video, even better!
if you don’t know the exact address, before you leave the location drop a pin on apple maps (iPhone instructions here) or on google maps (android instructions here). you can share this information with law enforcement later!
hop on google.
search “animal control [your city/county] phone number” to find the number to call for your local animal control agency.
if your town does not have an animal control agency, find the # for your county sheriff’s office. (also available on google – three cheers for the internet!)
alternatively, you can use this handy dandy map to locate contact information for local law enforcement agencies.
pick up the phone, and dial the number for your local animal control or law enforcement agency during normal business hours (which are usually 9am to 5pm).
when they pick up, tell them that you want to report a pet in distress who has been left out in the cold for too long by its schmuckface owner, and would they pretty please do something about it right meow?
psst, don’t forget to take detailed notes! write down who it is you speak with and on what day/at what time. this is so that you can follow up in a few days if you notice the situation has not been remedied.
did you know?
you can file an anonymous complaint about animal neglect with your local animal control or law enforcement agency! this means you can help an animal in need without worry. please don’t let “i don’t want them to know who i am! or tell anyone that i called! ahhh! i’m so embarrassed for being a good person!” get in the way of you helping out a pet in need. (but seriously, okay???)
if you need additional advice, or if you’re having an especially difficult time getting ahold of the right people, you can call the humane society of the united states monday through friday 8am est to 11pm est, and saturdays and sundays between 9am est and 6pm est: 866-720-2676
please note: the humane society of the united states can only give you advice. they can’t actually do anything about the neglected animal. because that is up to YOU, amigo. 🙂
please don’t turn a blind eye. you could be the difference between life and death for a helpless pet.
it’s always easier to do nothing.
it’s always easier to say to yourself, “well, it’s not my place.”
i’m here to tell you it IS your place.
i’m here to tell you that it IS worth taking time out of your day to help a pet in need. that pet shivering out in the cold needs YOUR help. they need YOU to make that call. they need YOU to do the thing you are fully capable of doing – the thing they cannot do! – that could make all the difference in the world for them.
and i mean, how awesome is it to know that you are a person who has the power to change the life of a pet in need who has lost all hope?
pretty neat, huh?
just remember: with great power comes great responsibility. you can quote me on that 😉
rams & his human 🙂