Think of your furry friends
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).