Protect your Dog and Cat from Winter chill

Original article by Lou DeSantis; additional information from Deedee Dillingham and Linda DeStefano.

Another frigid winter is coming to Central New York.  It’s time to remember that every year, too many family dogs freeze to death in this country right in their own back yards.  To prevent your dog from becoming a victim when the mercury plummets, bring your dog inside. The same for your cat. (Cats should actually be indoor animals at all times of year as there are many hazards for them outdoors.)

Puppies, kittens, elderly and small dogs, and short-haired dogs such as Dobermans, pit bulls, and Dalmatians are especially vulnerable to the cold.  If you would like your dog to spend some time outside, limit it, and always provide proper shelter. An effective doghouse must be made of wood; plastic does not provide proper insulation.

To prevent cold and dampness from seeping in, it should be raised several inches off the ground. Putting foam sheeting, such as Tyvek, on the underside and in the walls is especially good for this. The door should have rubber flaps to prevent drafts, and the area where the dog lies should be offset from the door. Also, be sure to use plenty of straw for bedding; rugs and blankets will become wet and freeze.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbor when his or her dog is constantly barking; it is a sure sign of a neglected pooch. It’s a dog’s way of saying, “Hey, I’m lonely, bored and cold out here. Somebody, please help me!”

Here’s the law on providing adequate shelter for dogs:

Ag&Markets Law, Article 26, Cruelty to Animals, statute 353-b., “Appropriate shelter for dogs left outdoors,” says in sections 3.(b) and 4.:

3.(b) For all dogs that are left outdoors in inclement weather, a housing  facility, which  must: (1)  have  a  waterproof roof; 2) be structurally sound with insulation appropriate to local climatic conditions and sufficient to protect the dog from inclement weather; (3)be constructed to allow each dog adequate freedom of movement to make normal postural adjustments, including the ability to stand up, turn around  and lie down with its limbs outstretched; and (4) allow for effective removal of excretions, other waste material; dirt and trash. The housing facility and the area immediately surrounding it shall be regularly cleaned to maintain a healthy and sanitary environment and to minimize health hazards.

4. Inadequate shelter may be indicated by the appearance of the housing facility itself, including but not limited to, size, structural soundness, evidence of crowding within the housing facility, healthful environment in the area immediately surrounding such facility, or by the appearance or physical condition of the dog.

Who to Contact for help:

If you live in the city of Syracuse and are concerned that a dog doesn’t have adequate shelter or is otherwise neglected, contact Officer Becky Thompson at (315) 442-5336. If you live outside the city but in OnondagaCounty, contact the SPCA at (315)454-3469.

For small cards you can give people who need to know how to properly protect their dog from Winter, contact Linda A. DeStefano, People for Animal Rights P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, 488-PURR(7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or This article was translated into Spanish by Rob English.

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