Pets in the Cold Weather

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On a chilly morning, when Deputy Jodi Lebombard leaves for work she isn't concerned about her jacket. She is thinking of the animals in Ingham County who may not be warm enough. She and her team at the at animal control respond to calls from concerned neighbors about pets being left outside. After talking with the complainant she visits the dog owner to assess the situation. "We will talk to them about it and educate them on what they need to do and go from there," said Lebombard.

She says that if you have a neighbor who keeps their dog outside in the winter they may not be breaking the law. It is not illegal under Michigan law to have an outdoor dog, as long as it has shelter and water that meet code. Water must not be frozen. And if a dog owner cannot afford a dog house, the Ingham County Animal Shelter will provide one. They also have straw available, which is the best insulator against cold and wet weather. Lebombard tries to make it as easy as possible for dog owners to properly care for their animal. "I have before, even if they don't have a vehicle, put one in the back of my truck and drove it right out to them and set it up for them. That's not common. I like dog owners to take responsibility for their dog."

It is important to monitor your pet because like humans, animals who get too cold can experience symptoms of hypothermia and frost bite. "As things progress and they get more cold and stiff they're not going to want to move around as much. They're going to try to curl up," explained veterinarian Joseph Leppanen.
The most important tool to keeping your animal safe is simply common sense, says Deputy Lebombard. Reporting in Mason, Amanda Malkowski, News 10.