Pet Talk

13 years ago

    When I started the car this morning, it was fourteen below zero. Cold enough so that my car windows were frozen shut, even without any freezing rain to hold them, cold enough so that you could cut the chimney smoke with a chain saw, cold enough so that the tears running down my face froze before they evaporated. My eyes always run when it’s cold, trying to catch up with my nose I guess, and this was nose running, eye watering cold.
    I don’t have to tell you it was cold. I’m sure your car windows were frozen and your batteries weakened and the frost was building up on your windows. So I shouldn’t have to tell you that this is not appropriate weather for man nor beast to be outdoors without proper protection.
    I’m going to get on my soapbox this morning. I apologize in advance for that. And I’ll likely offend a few people, but I have to tell you that nothing breaks my heart like seeing a dog tied outside at fourteen below zero weather for longer than it takes him to do his business. I don’t care if he has a dog house or not, and I don’t care if it’s legal to tie out a dog if he has a dog house. If you put me in a fur coat, put a chain around my neck, throw me out in the back yard and tell me to crawl into a cold box just a few inches bigger than my half frozen body to try to stay warm, I’m not likely to stay warm.
    I can’t tell you how many animals come into the animal shelter with frost bite to the ears, with the pads of their feet frozen off, with the hair eaten off their bodies from the salt used on the roads or around the house to keep you from slipping as you walk into your warm home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the tips of an animals ear just peel off, literally peel off, because the ears were freeze dried.
    I can’t tell you how many times we have had animals rescued who were found in snow banks, plowed right in, as they hunkered down trying to find some place to get out of the wind.
    Right now we have a dog in the shelter who was found in the woods, had evidently been there for weeks. He was just all skin and bones and the fur on his hip and around his ankles eaten off by road salt. He’s been at the Shelter three weeks, he’s put on 25 pounds, his wounds are healing, and he is going to a new home. The trauma that he experienced can’t be measured in the sadness in his eyes or the scars where his hair has grown back. I just cannot imagine what goes through their minds when they are out there in the cold, looking back at a warm house, all lit up, music and sound and smells coming out, and there they stand, shivering, their body temperature dropping.
    I wish I didn’t have to put my dog out in this for the two or three minutes it takes him to do what he has to do, and trust me, he does it fast and he’s back at the door, and you know where I am? I’m not upstairs having a cup of tea or sitting by the TV, I’m standing at the door, waiting for him, watching him, making sure he’s OK, because what would happen if he slipped his collar, what would happen if he decided to chase a squirrel and broke his leash, how long would he last in this cold if he were to get loose?
    We get calls all the time from people who see dogs tied out all day and all night with minimal shelter, frozen water and little or no food. Animal control’s hands are tied quite often because the law does allow people to tie out their dogs so long as they have an “adequate” dog house, fresh water and food at their disposal. 
    Legal does not make it right, not in this case. And like I said, many of you will be offended and many of you will argue with me, but I am begging you, unless your dog’s house is heated, unless you make sure the water is not frozen, unless you provide fresh food, unless yours is the exception to the rule, please don’t leave your dog tied out in this weather.
    Winter is great fun, my Scruffy loves the snow, he leaps in it and buries himself in it and digs his face in it and just has a great time, but we all need to be mindful of the temperatures, the dangers, the amount of exposure to cold, the salt and other chemicals used to melt the snow, and just do what we can to protect our pets and keep them safe.
    If you would like to rescue an animal, the Shelter is full of beautiful healthy dogs and cats that are just begging for a new home. We have the most gorgeous blue tick hound you have ever seen, a young black lab who is still a lot of puppy and might need some training but is going to make someone a great dog. We have a stray that came in from Littleton, gorgeous male, looks like a cross between maybe a German Shepherd and a Husky, he reminds me of a Tamaskan, very beautiful dog, perhaps you know of someone in Littleton who is looking for their lost dog?
    We have cats of all colors and sizes and some kittens that will be available in just probably a week or two. Check out facebook, Petfinder, or our website for photos of many of these beautiful animals. Thank you and have a great week.