Think of your furry friends

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News

BY AN­GELA BROWN

Staff The bone-chill­ing tem­per­a­tures lately have prompted an­i­mal pro­tec­tion agen­cies to ad­vise res­i­dents to use cau­tion when leav­ing their dogs or cats out­side.

“This time of year it’s a daily oc­cur­rence with some­body call­ing about a dog be­ing out, or cat­tle or live­stock with in­ad­e­quate shel­ter or no shel­ter at all,” said Deb­bie Boulerice, in­ves­ti­gat­ing agent with Stor­mont- Dun­das- Glen­garry On­tario So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals (SPCA).

While the or­ga­ni­za­tion hasn’t re­ceived calls for Glen­garry, it has had six re­ports for the Prescott-Rus­sell area.

The SPCA also hasn’t had to lay any charges against in­di­vid­u­als re­lated to an­i­mals left in the cold but has com­pleted a num­ber of in­spec­tions. De­spite tem­per­a­tures fall­ing to mi­nus30, SPCA of­fi­cials have not dis­cov­ered any an­i­mals with frost­bite.

“If we get a call, hope­fully, we are able to con­nect with the owner,” Ms. Boulerice said. “They have to be given a chance to im­prove the con­di­tions.”

Pet own­ers may be or­dered to pro­vide a proper dog-house for ex­am­ple. The shel­ter must be in­su­lated, large enough for the an­i­mal to stand up and turn around, have proper bed­ding and a flap on the door to keep the wind and snow out. The struc­ture should be el­e­vated off the ground.

The SPCA will give the owner time to com­ply with the re­quire­ments. “In the mean­time the dog can’t re­main where it is,” Ms. Boulerice said. “It can’t stay out in the cold un­til the dog-house is built.” If the in­di­vid­ual fails to com­ply with the or­der the an­i­mal may be moved and the SPCA will press charges. A dog that is teth­ered to a house for any pe­riod of time needs to have at least three me­tres of chain, ac­cord­ing to law.

“If a dog can­not get out of the cold and freez­ing ground and snow, it’s hard,” Ms. Boulerice said. “If they have a dog- house at least they can get off the ice and snow. There is no law in place, un­for­tu­nately, that says you have to ex­er­cise your dog or love your dog. I wish there was.”

As long as the an­i­mal’s ba­sic needs -- food, wa­ter, shel­ter -are met and it is treated by a vet­eri­nar­ian if it is sick, SPCA of­fi­cials will not in­ter­vene.

El­derly dogs and young pups are most at risk to ex­po­sure to cold, as they are to heat. Some breeds should never be left in the ex­treme cold, such as box­ers or dober­mans, short-haired dogs or small breeds.

“A dog that is tied is cer­tainly more vul­ner­a­ble if it doesn’t have any­where to get in,” said Ms. Boulerice. “Peo­ple shouldn’t hes­i­tate to give us a call. They can leave a com­plaint 247 ei­ther lo­cally, at the shel­ter, or through the So­ci­ety.”

Peo­ple can also re­port a com­plaint anony­mously by call­ing and pro­vid­ing the ad­dress of where the an­i­mal is lo­cated.

Ms. Boulerice adds if it is too cold for hu­mans to be out­doors, it is likely too cold for their pets also.

Even cat­tle need to be able get away from the wind, whether they have ac­cess to a tree line, a cedar bush or a three-sided struc­ture.

To pro­vide com­fort for feral cats, some peo­ple feed them and pro­vide some type of shel­ter, even if that is just a wooden box with some blan­kets in it. The SPCA will also pro­vide food to peo­ple who feed fer­als.

“The big thing for any an­i­mal out in the cold is it needs suf­fi­cient nutri­tion to pro­duce body heat,” Ms. Boulerice said. “Peo­ple should in­crease what they are feed­ing their an­i­mals in the cold weather.” To file a com­plaint about an­i­mal abuse, call the SPCA shel­ter on Bound­ary Road at 310-SPCA (7722).

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