By Rosie Townshend-Carter
Jan. 10, 2014
Two days before Christmas, the Halifax SPCA received a call about a dog, an American Staffordshire terrier, frozen to death inside its outdoor shelter.
When they arrived on scene, it was apparent the female dog had been dead for days. The dog was chained to the shelter and frozen to the floor. Investigators had to use an ice pick to extract the body.
Diane Minick runs Cat Action, a non-profit charity organization dedicated to helping stray, barn and feral cats on P.E.I. The group has spayed and neutered approximately 9,600 cats throughout its 13 years of service.
“It is absolutely disgusting,” she said of the Halifax incident.
Leanne Cail is the marketing and development manager at the P.E.I. Humane Society. She wants to remind pet owners to use their wits when it comes to whether pets should be outside.
“Our motto is if it’s too cold for people, it’s too cold for pets.”
They have received calls about pets being outdoors and encourages people, even if they are unsure, to give the society a call, Cail said.
“Many people just don’t know how dangerous it is, so when we respond to a call it’s more about education.”
While dogs are more resilient, cats face the biggest risk in -30C temperatures. After 10 minutes, cats can develop frostbite on the tips of their ears and noses.
Minick encourages cat owners to set up a litter box inside for outdoor cats and not to let them out in cold temperatures.
Cats require a higher calorie count in the colder months, so adding oils such as coconut or fish oil to their food can help keep their weight healthy.
For dogs, Cail suggests bringing an outdoor dog into a mudroom if they do not want it walking around the house. Even outdoor dog shelters are not enough to protect against the elements.
Indoor dogs should be monitored during outdoor bathroom breaks and should not be out for longer than 20-30 minutes.