The Nova Scotia SPCA has been swamped this week with calls about pets being left outside in the cold weather. Since the weekend, they’ve responded to more than 80 reports.
“Twenty minutes in this kind of weather outside is enough,” said Special Const. Karen Pickering, of the SPCA. “Enough to use the washroom and back inside because you are risking frostbite. Frostbite of the pores, the ears, the nose.”
Cold weather can be deadly for pets
Although animals may have fur covering them, they are not immune to cold weather. The SPCA says dogs, cats and other pets should not be left outside in the cold for long periods of time.
“Obviously, with the wind chill factor, taking that into account like it is right now, -30, it’s fatal, it’s lethal,” said Pickering.
“I don’t know if people understand just how deadly it is for those animals and it’s an excruciating death.”
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Pickering says that under the Animal Protection Act, any cat or dog that is outside longer than to use the washroom, must be provided with an insulated shelter, whether they use it or not.
Six one-week-old puppies were seized at the end of November by the SPCA after being found outside in -2 C weather. The puppies are now five weeks old and doing well at the animal shelter, although still too young to be adopted at this time.
“Before we even dip into minuses, so 1, 2 C, if you’re a short-furred animal, you can be in danger,” said Pickering.
“We try and get owners to engage with us and work with us, and if they don’t, we have to seize for the sake of the animal.”
GALLERY: These puppies were seized in November by the SPCA
Pets owners limit time outside, buy jackets for furry friends
Although her dog Jake likes the winter, Erin O’Brien says she only takes him out for short periods of time when the temperatures are frigid.
“He doesn’t mind the cold temperatures. He doesn’t need a jacket or anything, his fur does it for him,” said O’Brien. “I just keep him out for like 15 minutes at a time. I wouldn’t keep him out for prolonged periods.”
Dog walker Jenny MacKinnon also recommends that pet owners look at what gear may help their furry friend get through the winter a little easier.
“It all depends on their breed really, what’s going to be necessary for them,” said MacKinnon.
“Some dogs, especially ones with shorter hair, might need to have a sweater or a coat and other ones with longer hair might not need to. Also, you want to watch out for their feet, especially the young ones or ones that are allergy-prone even, you’ll definitely want to put some boots on them if at all possible.”
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Think you spot neglect or abuse? Report it
The Nova Scotia SPCA is a registered charity and has been working to protect animals from cruelty since 1877.
The organization receives more than 18,000 calls about animal welfare each year and employs four full-time special constables and a chief to carry out its mandate of preventing and investigating animal cruelty in the province.