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If you're cold, they're cold

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

Indiana temperatures are dropping fast and winter is just around the corner.

Whether you keep your pet indoors or outdoors, the time of year has come to keep pets out of the elements.

Connersville does not have an ordinance stating pets must be brought in after the temperature drops below a certain degree but it is strongly encouraged that pets have acceptable shelter or are brought in from the cold weather.

“Right now, we don’t have an ordinance that forces pet owners to bring their pets indoors during below freezing temperatures,” Dave Ryckman, Fayette County animal control officer, said. “But they should have either straw, wood chips or hay in their house. When a dog comes outside and gets the snow on them and go back inside their dog house, they warm up, get wet then they will get cold going out again and they will freeze. Hay is best because it doesn’t break up and get all dusty.” 

In Indianapolis, it’s against the law to keep a pet outdoors if the temperature falls below 20 degrees or if a wind chill advisory has been issued. Pets can get hypothermia, frostbite and suffer any complications from the cold that humans experience. People who don’t follow the law face a $200 ticket.

While some breeds are built for cold weather, not all are.

“Most dogs love being outside so you should take into account those breeds,” local resident Rachel Humphrey said. “Last year I had a neighbor complain that I leave my chickens outside in all weather conditions. She said she was going to report me if I didn’t do something about it.”

Jason Jobe doesn’t think such a law could be enforced in this area.

“It would be a law that couldn’t be enforced. There are millions of farm dogs that never enter a home. Our dog would rather lay in the snow,” he commented. “Give them shelter and they will be fine.”

They are animals not humans, commented Mark Williams. As long as they have proper shelter with a little straw, they will be fine.

Many others think a law protecting pets should be in effect.

“I think every town should have a law like Indianapolis does,” Jeff Hudson said. “I think people should be charged with animal abuse for leaving their pets out in below-freezing weather, especially when they are on a chain without proper shelter.”

Mark Bramer agreees. “Most definitely they should be brought in when it’s below 20. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Presently there is no law in place protecting them. It’s sad to have to make a law just to treat animals humanely.”

“Pets should be brought inside because they are no different than a human,” Sherri Avant said. “Would you leave your children outside, or what about you? Would you want to be homeless and be outside? If you wanted that pet than treat it like family they should be treated the same.”

Steven Buckley said it’s common sense to have a pet protection law.

Ryckman said with cold weather, he tries to give owners time to get a doghouse. If he gets a call in the evening he lets them know they need to fix the situation, or he will take the pet until they can provide shelter for them.

If the owner doesn’t provide shelter for the pet, they won’t get their dog back.

“We also want people to be reminded they must check their pet’s water frequently when temperatures are below freezing,” Ryckman said. “Tractor Supply and Gillman’s both sell heated water bowls.”

Dr. Scott Keaffaber of Connersville Veterinary Clinic said he doesn’t see too many cases of frostbite or other illnesses caused from pets being left out in the elements.

“We generally don’t see many on either case,” he said. “Mostly we see those with pets that are found by people and brought in, not really for people that leave them outside.”

To report a pet being left outside, or without food or water, call the animal shelter at 765-825-8693.