People are leaving dogs to freeze to death in the bitter cold

|     Karin Brulliard     |

POLICE in Hartford, Connecticut charged a woman Thursday with animal cruelty in connection with a grim scene reported by a neighbour on New Year’s Day: A dog chained to a small shelter outside a home – and frozen solid.

The incident was one of several similar deaths reported in recent days as bitter cold grips the eastern United States, prompting animal rescue organisations and local authorities to issue warnings about giving pets shelter.

Several states and local jurisdictions have in recent years stepped up penalties against pet owners who leave animals exposed to extreme weather, both hot and cold. The laws vary, but in some cases offenders face fines or cruelty charges, and even felony charges if the animal perishes. Animal protection groups and veterinarians say that although dogs, cats, horses and other animals grow thicker coats in the winter, the fur doesn’t make them able to withstand subfreezing temperatures. Experts say the general rule is that if it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for pets.

Not sure whether it’s too cold to walk Fido outside? Here are a few tips on keeping pets cozy from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

– Towel-dry your pet’s paws after it comes in from the snow, and remove any snowballs from its fur.

– Don’t shave your dog in the winter – let it grow out its long coat to keep it warm.

– If your dog has short fur and obviously did not evolve for wintry weather, consider a coat or a sweater vest to provide an extra layer of “fur”.

– Ice, salt and chemicals from the ground will get stuck in your pet’s feet and fur; wash its paws when it comes in to remove these potential hazards.

– Use pet-friendly ice melts on your sidewalks and driveways – even if you don’t have pets.

– Giving your pet plenty of fresh water will prevent its skin from flaking and itching in the dry weather.

– Car coolant and antifreeze are lethal to animals, so clean up any spills or leaks. – Text by The Washington Post