Don’t leave pets cold: Field calls about animal welfare

GREENFIELD — Frigid temperatures this week have led to dozens of calls to 911 and animal control about animals being left out in the cold, and in one case, a cat froze to death.

Temperatures this week have dipped dangerously low, and with those negative temperatures has come an influx in calls to emergency-responders and animal welfare advocates. Temperatures aren’t expected to climb above 32 degrees until Sunday and will drop into the 20s on Tuesday, prompting local officials to encourage residents to provide extra shelter for their pets.

Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management director Amanda DeHoney said the office received 11 phone calls Wednesday alone from area residents requesting welfare checks for animals they spotted outside. Hancock County emergency dispatchers also have fielded a handful of calls about cats or dogs being left in the cold, dispatch records show.

Monday, the office was called to pick up a cat that had frozen to death, she said. Shelter officials assume the cat was a stray — it wasn’t microchipped — though it was found near a Greenfield apartment complex. Efforts to find its owners were unsuccessful.

Temperatures that day dropped to -10 degrees, while the daytime high reached just 4 degrees.

The animal shelter typically fields more requests for welfare checks when temperatures fall, DeHoney said. Eleven calls is more than the office usually sees in a day, but that’s to be expected with below freezing temperatures, she said.

For more than a week, temperatures have stayed below freezing. On Tuesday, the area set a record low for the day of -12 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a series of wind chill advisories and warnings over the past week.

Animal advocates, including the Humane Society of the Unites States, recommend keeping pets — even those that roam free the rest of the year — inside during winter except for short walks or bathroom breaks.

For much of the week, Dehoney’s staff has been posting tips on Facebook for keeping pets warm this winter, which is forecast to be colder and snowier than last year.

They include:

Ensure your dog has plenty of food and water (not frozen) any time they’re outside. Dogs expend more energy trying to stay warm when outdoors during winter. The Humane Society of the United States recommends using plastic food and water bowls. Animals tongues can stick to metal when temperatures drop.

Check their paws. Wipe away any salt that’s accumulated so they don’t lick it and check for any signs of irritation caused by chemicals or the cold.

Limit time outside or provide shelter. If your dog is going to be outside for long periods of time, make sure the animal has shelter away from the snow and wind. Their ears, nose and paws are susceptible to frostbite, the Humane Society said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.