Many people know what could happen if an animal is left in hot temperatures, they could die. How many people know that leaving animals in freezing temperatures could have the same outcome?
Marshall County residents are calling out pet owners who left their animals outside in the freezing temperatures that blasted through Oklahoma and Southern Texas the week of February 13, 2021. On Valentine’s Day, temperatures dipped as low as six degrees Fahrenheit, a wind chill of negative 12 and anywhere from four to eight inches of snow.
As many people do in this day and age, many took to social media to plead for something to be done to assist the helpless animals. An animal rescue group posted to Instagram about a resident who refuses to bring their animals inside, no matter how much they beg.
In the post, the representative posting for the group describes the condition of the animal’s deplorable housing, and the legal avenues they attempted to take. According to the post, “the police went out and told the man he has to put a handful of hay underneath the dog.”
The pet owner obliged the law and put hay in the meager shelter. However, that is not good enough, the animal can still perish in this weather.
The poster said that the animal has no food and frozen water. The organization calls out for action to be taken to assist the helpless animal.
“We can do better than this America,” the post stated. “Shame on Oklahoma.”
The post also stated that other animals were left out in the freezing temperatures. One poster stated that adding hay is nowhere near sufficient for the animal. “Hay isn’t even what the dog needs,” they posted. “Straw is what he needs, as well as shelter, food, water, love…”
Many people tagged other rescue groups in hopes of finding a solution for the animals.
With the temperature dropping so close to zero, animals should be brought inside, or at least places in insulated structures.
Texas A & M Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences laid out just what is considered too cold for pets. Determining what is considered a dangerous temperature depends on several factors.
“Determining what temperature is too cold for your pet can depend on many different factors, from fur thickness and length to body mass,” Dr. M.A. Crist, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences said.
“This makes it hard to determine an exact temperature that could be dangerous to your pet’s health,” noted Crist. “However, it is clinically accepted that indoor pets that are not acclimated to cold weather should not be left outside when the average daily temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Cats, even if acclimated to outdoor temperatures should always have access to warm shelters. Kittens, cats advanced in age, or sick should never be kept outdoors when the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.”
For animals that are acclimated to being outside, there are certain steps that should be taken to protect the animal, Crist said.
“The doghouse or structure should contain a windblock to protect it from northern winter blasts,” advised Crist. “Outdoor pets in colder climates should have an outdoor rated heating pad. Also, adding blankets or dry straw in the structure can give the animal a place to bed down and keep warm. Just make sure the bedding stays clean and dry and remember to change it out frequently.”
According to the American Kennel Club, dogs and other animals are susceptible to things like frostbite and hypothermia just like humans.
“Frostbite is tissue damage that can occur in extreme cold,” the website stated. “Dogs are at risk once the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Just like with humans, frostbite is a dog’s natural process where blood is redirected from the body’s extremities to vital organs when there is a drop in body temperature. Areas that are furthest away from the heart such as the tail, ears, nose, and paws will experience a drop in blood flow, and this can cause tissue damage.”
“Breed type certainly does play a factor in how susceptible a dog is to getting frostbite,” the warning continued. “Obviously, cold weather breeds such as the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute are less prone to this condition, but all breeds run the risk of frostbite and hypothermia when exposed to cold temperatures for a length of time. No dog should ever be left unattended in extreme weather for any period. A good rule of thumb is that if it is too cold for people, it is probably too cold for your dog. A warm dog jacket or sweater and booties will help minimize the risk, especially for short-coated breeds or older, more fragile dogs. However, clothing for your dog should never be used on an unattended dog or as a substitute for proper care, but rather as an adjunct. In general, it is safer for pets to be in an area where temperatures can be controlled.”
So, please, for the love of your animals, be sure they have an adequate and warm shelter.