If it’s too cold for a child, it’s too cold for a dog

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On Aug. 8, 2016, I brought my fury bundle of joy home. From the moment he decided he was mine, this Australian Shepherd pup changed my life. I knew I would care for him to the best of my abilities and treat him as if he were my own human child.

Just like every dog, my dog, Archer, looks to me to care for him in every aspect of his life. Feeding him, bathing him, playing with him and making sure he is properly protected from the unusually cold winter we are experiencing are all  my responsibilities.  Archer is fortunate enough to be an indoor dog. I believe all dogs should be. No domesticated dog should be forced to face the conditions outside on a 24/7 basis, especially in the cold.

Dogs feel the cold just as we do.  Not all dogs’ coats are built to withstand subfreezing temperatures. According to Animal Planet, their coats are warm enough to allow them to do their needed business outside and then come indoors and face the winter like us: under blankets, on the couch, with a good movie playing on the TV.

Graphic by  Carly Wagers

Graphic by
Carly Wagers

Seeing  numerous cases of dogs left outside in freezing or nearly freezing temperatures is heartbreaking. This is animal abuse, and in some states, it is illegal to leave your dog in the cold. If it is too cold for you to be outside, it is too cold for a dog. No one would leave a child at bus stop, waiting to go to school, without a jacket, so why leave a dog to face the cold unprotected?

If someone has to leave their dog outside, they must provide it with proper shelter.  Line the shelter with straw or put the kennel near the house to help keep them warm.

To show how cold it gets in an unprotected kennel, veterinarian Ernie Ward, dressed fully in cold weather gear, spent a few hours in a plastic dog kennel outside, according to his verified Facebook page. When he began, it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  About 30 minutes in, he began to have little bouts of shivering and ice crystals began to form on the inside of the kennel. After one hour in, his feet began to feel numb. He mentioned the fact that “no dog is biologically adapted” to handle that kind of cold. Ward spent a little more than four hours before he called it quits. The temperature was around 15 degrees, and his body was completely numb. His own body temperature had dropped as well. This is what a dog experiences when made to suffer in the cold.

Those who leave their dogs outside can be punished. According to Marion County’s animal care ordinance, a fine of $25 can be faced. If another citation is issued, it is raised to $200. Other states, such as Penn., are trying to make this type of animal cruelty a felony.

Law enforcement and animal rescue services urge those who notice a dog in freezing temperatures to report it.

In Indianapolis, you can call Indianapolis Animal Care Services at 317.327.1397.

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