The winter months can be a dangerous time for pets and with yet another chilling cold front right around the corner, certain precautions must be made in order to keep one’s animals safe.
Temperatures may be in the single digits, but a strong wind chill can bring those temperatures down to the negative digits. Waxahachie Animal Control has great responsibility during these months. Its job is not only to bring in and adopt out animals but also to patrol and investigate throughout the city.
Animal control officer and cruelty investigator Warren Howell has seen the effects that this kind of weather has had upon animals throughout the city.
“Animals are dying,” Howell said. “Yes, they have a fur coat, but this is wet, icy cold. Try putting on a nice coat, get it wet and then go stand out in the cold wind for a few hours. That coat will not be warm enough. Now think about an animal in this climate.”
Howell is willing to work with the public to educate owners and figure out the best, most inexpensive way to weather these storms. In doing so he has a few suggestions that can help any pet-owner.
• Bedding straw can be purchased at a feed store for $7/bundle. It is coarse, acts as a blanket from the cold ground and helps contain warmth.
• R-Max can be purchased at building supply stores for under $9/4x8 sheet. It can be cut to any shape and size and then taped to provide complete insulation for a doghouse. It will keep chilly, icy wind from cutting through nooks and crannies so the animal’s body temperature can be maintained.
• Provide warm drinking water at least twice/day. Dogs perspire through panting, so cool water will only make them colder.
• Feed the animal twice/day. This allows the animal to get the proper nutrients, carbohydrates and calories it needs in order to keep warm with energy.
• Best option is to bring the animal inside to a garage, a laundry room or a bathroom.
As the weather continues to stay frigid, Howell urges people to take these necessary actions. He believes owning an animal is just like making the decision to own a concealed handgun.
“If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do and you are not abiding by the laws that you are taught, then there will be consequences under the law,” he said.
According to the city ordinance, Sec. 6-11 restricts leaving a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the dog’s movement in extreme weather conditions such as temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In these cases the animal must be brought into a shed, house, garage or doghouse. Furthermore, an animal must be provided necessary food, water, care and shelter that keeps it in a state of good health. Any failure to follow such laws is a class A misdemeanor and can result in an arrest.
“Last winter, we had seven animals freeze to death and I just don’t want to see it again,” Howell said. “I can’t see them all; I can’t find them all. That’s what hurts. It’s up to the owners.
“Even through all of this, I do want to thank the citizens that have donated blankets and money to the shelter,” Howell said. “With their help we have purchased bails of bedding straw, food and other items and been able to give these and the blankets out to citizens who want to keep their animals safe but are not financially able to do so.”
People need to be aware of what can happen if action isn’t taken to protect their animals during freezing weather like what’s occurring at this time, he said, noting that a pet could be in imminent danger.