Highland County Humane Society Animal Shelter Manager Amy Rhoden said her office has received lots of calls about dogs being left outside during the recent cold snap and warned that if they do not have proper shelter and food, they can be taken from the owner.
“We always encourage animals being brought inside during this kind of weather, but if you can not, please provided them with adequate food and shelter,” Rhoden said. “If we get called out and they’re old, unhealthy or short-haired and don’t have food and shelter, we’re going to take them.”
Rhoden said the shelter has been receiving calls almost daily, including three on Tuesday from the Rocky Fork Lake area and another one the same day from the Leesburg area where the owner of a pit bull was told he would have to bring his dog inside.
“We get calls throughout the day pretty much every day in this kind of weather,” Rhoden said. “We get way more calls when it’s really cold like this than we do on really hot days in the summer when dogs outside need shade to keep them from getting heat stress.”
Even if a dog being kept outside in cold weather has a shelter, Rhoden said shelter should be packed with straw. She said water should also be changed a minimum of twice daily because it will freeze, and that dogs should be fed more food, because they burn more calories trying to stay warm.
Dog shelters should be packed with straw rather than blankets, Rhoden said, because blankets hold moisture and then don’t keep dogs warm.
If someone needs straw and can not afford it, Rhoden said the animal shelter has straw it can give to people. She said the humane officer carries straw during the colder months, and that the shelter also has a couple dog houses it could give to someone.
Rhoden said dog shelters should be elevated off the frozen ground, and that a flap over the entrance to the shelter is a good idea.
She said a trick to keep water in a dog’s bowl from freezing is to place a small bottle filled with salt water inside the bowl.
Dogs with shorter coats of hair, smaller dogs, and dogs that are old or unhealthy are more susceptible to cold weather, according to Rhoden. She said that while “double-coated” dogs can acclimate to colder weather, they still need some type of dog house or other shelter.
Cats should also be inside during extreme cold, Rhoden said, but if that’s not possible they should have a building they can enter or some other type of shelter. For instance, she said, a cat owner can buy a $5 plastic tub, cut a hole in the top, flip it over and then till the tub with straw.
In a related matter, the animal shelter has new hours. Located at 9331 SR 124 east of Hillsboro, it is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday and Monday. For more information call 937-393-2110.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]