Bitter temperatures lethal for pets, strays left outside - WNEM TV 5

Bitter temperatures lethal for pets, strays left outside

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Concerned viewers continue to contact NBC12, urging the station to remind everyone to keep pets inside, during bitter cold temperatures like these.

"These temperatures are life threatening to animals," said Richmond Animal Control Senior Officer Rose Dew.

Dogs, cats, even chickens, in Richmond haven't experienced these below freezing temperatures in nearly two decades. Officer Dew has rescued dogs left out in weather not nearly as cold, fending for their lives.

"They're curled up in a ball beside a tree," described Dew.

It's illegal in Richmond to keep your pet outside, in freezing temperatures, tied to a tree, or left without proper shelter. Animal control officers in the city of Richmond are telling anyone who sees a neglected pet or stray in this bitter cold snap to call 911. An on-call officer will respond.

"Generally, we really don't go out for stray dogs...but in this type of weather, it is a detrimental safety issue for the animal," explained Dew.

Cars also cause detrimental trouble in the winter for animals. Dogs love the taste of toxic antifreeze, because it's sweet. Cats often try to stay warm by sneaking under the hood of a car. If an engine starts with an animal inside, the consequences are often tragic.

"You see a lot of traumatic tail amputations, limb amputations, lacerations or deep cuts," said Dr. Roy Barnes, an animal surgeon with the Virginia veterinary Surgical Associates.

Dr. Barnes also says dogs and cats can suffer hypothermia and frost bite, just like humans. "Over time we can see discoloration in terms of loss of hair and a bluish tinge to fur and skin," described Dr. Barnes.

"It's very important to provide (pets) with as much care and love as a human being, in these type temperatures," urged Officer Dew.

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