Winter is here and the Warwick Valley Humane Society has some recommendations and rules for pets in cold weather.
“First of all, “ said Suzyn Barron, president of the Warwick Valley Humane Society, “ it is not only illegal to leave a dog outside in wintertime conditions without appropriate shelter, it is considered neglect, which falls under the Cruelty to Animals statute.”
These rules are detailed in New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law, under the Cruelty to Animals statute Barron said. Failing to provide proper outdoor housing for any dog left outside for an indeterminate amount of time is a violation. If not corrected within 72 hours, another violation can be issued and/or the dog seized by court order.
And it is a violation to fail to provide proper outdoor housing for any dog left outside for an indeterminate amount of time. If not corrected within 72 hours, another violation can be issued and/or the dog seized by court order.”
Barron also pointed out that while cars become ovens causing heat stroke in summer, in winter they become freezers causing hypothermia.
Also, although not specifically stated, she said, if you own an animal other than a dog, neglect can be proven for insufficient housing as well.
Farm animals and horses, for example, deserve humane treatment, so providing a structure to allow the animals relief from the snow, wind and rain is the right thing to do. Allowing farm animals to stand in mud to their ankles for days is detrimental to their health.
“Cats also 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 Barron. “Despite having fur, all animals need protection from freezing temperatures. The wild animals find shelter. But domestic animals have to rely on their caregivers, who, unfortunately, don’t always do the humane thing. And all these animals can get frostbite.”
People who have been feeding outdoor cats often call the shelter at this time of year because they feel bad that it’s so cold outside, she noted.
“However they can provide shelter for those cats by buying a small insulated doghouse or making an insulated one,” she said. “These outdoor cats are not going to adjust to being inside in a small cage. And feeding them is not enough. 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.
Goats and other domestic animals as well should have some form of shelter to get out of the wind, 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. Pets can also slip and injure themselves on ice patches.
Anyone who sees a domestic animal without proper shelter or unfrozen water should contact the Warwick Valley Humane Society at 845-986-2473 or on its confidential cruelty line at 845-987-7336.
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