Pet owners need to be aware of weather conditions when they let their animals outside, says an animal cruelty officer.
“If it’s too cold for you outside then it’s probably too cold for your pets,” Sarah Lauzon said at the Thunder Bay District Humane Society on Friday.
“Everyone needs to consider the temperatures out there. Small dogs, puppies, and anything older really can’t withstand any cold temperatures.”
Lauzon is the Thunder Bay District’s lone animal cruelty officer and has seen her workload spike recently.
She said she has been receiving an average of three to four calls per day since the recent arrival of cold weather. Most calls come from neighbours about seeing animals constantly left outside without shelter.
There is a legal requirement for owners to provide shelter for pets that are outside. Shelters must be insulated, elevated off the ground and be weather and draft proofed.
There also must be a constant supply of fresh water that is not frozen.
Upon receiving a complaint, Lauzon will investigate the validity of the call to determine if there is any action that needs to be taken. She said her goal is to work with pet owners and educate them about the legal requirements.
Timelines will be imposed with follow-up visits to ensure requirements have been met and the pets are in safe conditions.
She does have the authority to remove pets, but said it is her last resort.
Lauzon also said that willful non-compliance can lead to consequences such as fines, prosecution, prohibition from having pets in the future and possibly even a jail sentence.
While she is the lone officer, Lauzon does receive assistance from both the Thunder Bay Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police.
There are two clear signs to look for to determine if a pet is in discomfort with the cold.
“If your dog is shivering then it is too cold,” Lauzon said. “Lifting paws is a sign their feet are too cold.”
Dogs and cats are both susceptible to frostbite, with their tails and ears being two of the most frequently affected areas.
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