Animals need safe places as winter weather hits

Donna Summerall
Staff Writer

Winter is coming with cold rain, winds and falling temperatures. The West Point Clay County Animal Shelter has good advice for keeping pets safe and warm while the temperature drops.
“We hope pet owners will think about providing warm places for their pets before winter is upon us,” Lisa Henley, director of the West Point Clay County Animal Shelter, said. “There is a city ordinance in place stating that animals must be provided for. They need a structure that provides warmth, food and water. These are just basic necessities that should be provided.”
Henley said to buy a bale of hay and add warm blankets to put in dog houses. The best time to do this is now before cold weather is here and stays awhile.
“If it’s too cold for a person to be outside, its too cold for a dog,” Henley said. “I know they have fur but a lot of dogs are short haired and they lose body fat simply trying to keep warm. Feed dogs a little extra to help them develop a layer of fat. They need a little extra fat to help them stay warm.”
Small dogs should be kept indoors during the winter cold. Small short – haired dogs may need a sweater or doggie coat. Their small size means they lose warmth faster than a larger dog. In snow and ice the pads on a dog or cat’s paws can be frostbitten.
“If you own several dogs, they can all pile up together in a dog house for warmth,” Henley said. “Cats are survivors, but even they need a place to get out of the cold. If you have feral cats that you feed, put a large box on the south wall of your home with old towels and blankets so they have somewhere warm to go.”
Henley truly stresses letting pets come into the house when the temperatures drop below freezing. Water meant for pets will freeze outside and they will be unable to drink. Food, water and a place to get out of the cold are required. Animals in cruel situations will be reported to law enforcement. Be a responsible pet owner and provide for the animals that depend on humans.
“It rains a lot here during the winter,” Henley said. “Cold rain is miserable. Think of being chained outside with a cold rain coming down and you are unable to get somewhere warm and dry. Dogs have feelings just like people. If you wouldn’t want to be outside in those conditions, neither does your dog.”
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