Wednesday, December 16, 2009

OHS busy responding to calls about animals left outside in cold weather

December 16, 2009
For immediate release

On the eve of the season's first frigid forecast, the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) is busy responding to public calls of concern about animals left outside in the cold. Over the past few days, the OHS emergency department has seen an increase in complaints about animals left outdoors without appropriate shelter or care.

"People who may have been concerned about an animal earlier in the fall but didn't call previously are calling us to do something now as the temperature drops," says Tim Brown, an inspector for the OHS. "The complaints put a strain on us as we have limited resources to serve the entire community."

Brown reminds pet owners that plunging temperatures can be dangerous and even life threatening for animals. While the OHS strongly recommends bringing dogs inside during periods of extreme cold, owners of outside dogs need to be especially vigilant about providing appropriate care in frigid weather.

"If we find a dog outside under intolerable conditions and we can't locate an owner, there's a good chance that dog will be removed for its own safety and the owner could be charged," says Brown.


Dogs that live outside require as a minimum a doghouse soundly built of weatherproof materials facing away from prevailing winds. It should be elevated and insulated, with a door flap and bedding of straw or wood shavings. Animals who are outside need a constant source of fresh water, so check your dog's bowl often to ensure it hasn't frozen.

In cold weather, it's important to keep animals away from ice-covered bodies of water — even small ponds you think may be frozen over. Although many surfaces may appear solid, ice is often uneven and thin in places, and your pet may fall in and possibly suffer hypothermia or even death.

It's best to limit the amount of outdoor time for any animal in frigid temperatures, so take your dog for lots of quick short walks instead of one long one. Be sure to wipe down his paws each time you return home to remove chemicals or salt often used to melt ice and snow. These can be poisonous if ingested and can irritate sensitive feet.

Remember never to leave an animal in an unheated car for long periods of time, and be sure to knock on the car hood each time you start the engine to scare any cats away, as they often crawl inside seeking warmth and risking injury when the motor starts.

If you see an animal in distress or without adequate shelter from the cold, call the OHS Emergency Unit at 613-725-1532. Although legally mandated to enforce the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada and the Ontario SPCA Act, the OHS does not receive any government funding or funding from any animal welfare group to perform this essential work.

For media inquiries, contact:
Tara Jackson, Communications Manager
(613) 725-3166 ext. 261

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