Winter is almost here and for the next couple months we’re going to have some cold and crazy weather. This is the time of year, when I’m cooking a warm dinner in my warm home or snuggling under a blanket with my dog at night, I think about those dogs and cats out in the cold. When I was in grade school, I remember walking home from school and finding a frozen Siamese cat in the snow. That was ages ago, but still every winter I think about that cat.
I try to communicate with pet owners who keep their dogs outside. I’ve learned that no matter how nice you try to be, some people don’t like it when you try to help them keep their dogs warm. I’ve heard, “they have fur, they’re fine.” Well, I have a coat, that doesn’t make it any less colder if I have to stand out in ten degree weather all day. However, some people will accept help when offered.
I teamed up with a friend to help some outside dogs. With two donated igloos for two dogs with inadequate shelter, we rounded up some bales of dry straw to go along with the igloo’s. The owners of these dogs were very happy to accept the help and thanks to those that were involved, the dogs are now much warmer and comfortable.
Most outside dogs have dog houses, some of them very nice, some barely adequate. No matter what the weather is like, ALL outside animals are required to have adequate shelter by law. The law also requires fresh food and clean water available at all times and easily accessible. In the winter, water becomes frozen easily and undrinkable. Water needs to be checked on a regular basis and if possible, there are heated water dishes like the Allied All-Seasons Electric Heated Pet Bowl at PetCo. Outside animals also need plenty of good food with high nutrients in the winter for a healthy body. Whether it’s a dog or a cat, they have needs for survival.
I would like to ask everybody who reads this column, and spread the word to your family, friends and neighbors, to take a role in helping these outside animals. If you know of a dog that has no shelter, food or water, try talking to the owner and perhaps offer some shelter, hay/straw, or an old blanket for the dog house. If the owner doesn’t accept help and the dog is clearly in need of help, then call animal control, humane society or contact the police, especially in severe weather.
Feral cats also need a place to get warm. You can use an old dog house filled with straw or a blanket. You can offer food and fresh water to help them stay nourished. If you have a shed or a garage, make a area for them to take shelter in (away from any chemicals and be sure there is no anti-freeze on the floor). Together we can improve the lives of animals in need.
If we can all work together, we can improve the quality of life in these animals that otherwise has no one else who cares about them.
For more information on how you can help dogs visit DDB at www.dogsdeservebetter.org and for feral and stray cats visit C.O.P.E. www.copecats.org and www.alleycatallies.org.