Photo by Roger Gavan
Unless your cats have a 24-hour doorman, lots of food and water and a warm place to hang out like former Warwick Animal Shelter residents Joesy and Jesse, it is inhumane to leave them outside in wintertime without fresh water and shelter.
WARWICK — Except for the recent snowstorm and some freezing rain, it hasn't been a bad winter.
But there may be a few very cold days and nights before it's over and the Warwick Valley Humane Society has some recommendations for those.
First of all, it is not only illegal to leave a dog outside in wintertime conditions without appropriate shelter, as detailed in New York's Agriculture and Markets Law, but it is common sense and possibly aggravated cruelty, a felony, to be neglectful of cats, other pets and farm animals.
"Cats fall through the cracks in the law that demands that dogs have a dry insulated dog house, off the ground and large enough for the animal to easily turn around," said Suzyn Barron, president of the Warwick Valley Humane Society. "But despite having fur, all animals need protection from freezing temperatures. The wild animals find shelter. Domestic animals have to rely on their caregivers, who, unfortunately, don't always do the humane thing. And all these animals can get frostbite."
Barron reported that people who have been feeding outdoor cats, for example, often call the shelter at this time of year because they feel bad that it's so cold outside.
"They can provide shelter for those cats," she said, "by buying a small insulated doghouse or making an insulated one. These outdoor cats are not going to adjust to being inside in a small cage. Feeding them is not enough and if you feel bad, do something about it."
Barron also explained that rabbits in outdoor hutches need protection from below freezing temperatures. Their water may turn to ice and they need plenty of hay to keep warm in the inside portion of the hutch, which should also be insulated.
Horses, cows, goats and other domestic animals as well should have some form of shelter to get out of the wind and rain and snow.
Pet owners, she added, should also clean the pet's paws of salt exposure after being outside on the street and use a pet safe salt substitute at home.
And anyone who sees a domestic animal without proper shelter or unfrozen water should contact the Warwick Valley Humane Society at 986-2473 or on its confidential cruelty line at 987-7336.