Reports of a dog left outside for more than two weeks during freezing temperatures has prompted the SPCA of Westchester to issue a reminder to pet owners about winter safety.
"Unfortunately, the SPCA of Westchester's Humane Law Enforcement has seen an increase in calls in the last few weeks regarding pets suffering outside in the cold," the Briarcliff Manor-based organization said in a statement.
Recently, SPCA Director of Humane Law Enforcement Ernest Lungaro said one confidential hotline call revealed information "about a distressed dog being chained and kept in a wire crate behind the owner's house with no cover and merely an old piece of carpet on top of the crate to keep the dog warm."
Luckily, there was a happy ending in this case.
"The dog endured below freezing temperatures for over 2 weeks until the SPCA received the call about the situation," the SPCA reported. "The dog was subsequently relocated indoors."
Lungaro noted, “Under New York State Law, a dog’s shelter outside must have a waterproof roof and should have something covering the front opening such as a rug or burlap tarp so that wind can not penetrate the inside. All dog houses must be 6 inches or more off the ground to prevent exposure to the frozen ground and fresh water must always be available so that it doesn’t freeze.”
Leaving a pet outside too long can have severe health consequences, according to Dr. Megan Caulfield of the SPCA Simpson Clinic.
"When the core body temperature decreases more than 2 degrees Celsius the brain is no longer able to control body temperature and an animal will lose consciousness as organ failure begins," Caulfield said. "When the body temperature drops more than 5 degrees, cardiac arrest and death will most likely occur."
In addition to the cold, the SPCA reminds pet owners that cleaning pets' paws when they come indoors and keeping antifreeze out of reach are important precautions.
Additionally, "Do not leave your pet in a car without heat," the SPCA warns. "The inverse of what happens in a car in summer can occur in the cold."