Help Pets Left Outside in the Cold

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1.4.13 - Bring Pets Inside
It has been an exceptionally frigid winter, but that hasn’t stopped many heartless pet owners from leaving their animals outside in the bitter cold, often with inadequate or no shelter. So what can you do to help?

Confront neighbors who think, “it’s just a dog,” explaining to them that cats and dogs are just as sensitive to cold as we are, and can easily die of frostbite and hypothermia.  If you’re a less confrontational person, put fliers in mailboxes or on bulletin boards of local businesses.

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Buy or build dog houses (out of wood or (large) plastic totes) and line them with straw or sleeping bags (which can usually be purchased at thrift stores for around $5), and distribute them to unfeeling residents who won’t bring their pets inside. Dog sweaters, jackets and boots would be nice, too.

If people refuse to bring their pets in, call the police. Keep on them and animal control until something is done. While it may not be illegal to keep pets outdoors in the winter, it is illegal to do so without making sure they have proper shelters and access to food and water.

You can also share this article.  You might not have friends who would leave their pets in the cold, but you might have neighbors who do, and your friends have neighbors who might.  There are many of these people out there, and someone, somewhere has to know them. Get the word out!

Simple actions are what is necessary to save lives. Everyone can be a hero to one animal in need.

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All you need to make this is a reciprocating saw (or a sturdy box-cutter and a very steady hand), and some supplies that can be found around the house or purchased cheaply at thrift stores. Old blankets or towels can be hot glued to insulate the inside, and part of a small rug can be used for a door. Just make sure it can be easily poked open from both sides with a snout.


“I like to joke that my rescued greyhound, Jasper, is like a canine Barbie doll. He has an outfit for every occasion: two fleece jackets, a lightweight winter coat, a heavyweight winter coat, a raincoat and even pajamas. I sometimes get ribbed by friends about Jasper’s extensive wardrobe, but greyhounds, like other short-coated dogs, are extremely sensitive to the cold.

Unfortunately, not all animals are as well-outfitted to withstand winter weather as Jasper is. *PETA’s Community Animal Project fieldworkers encounter animals all winter long who are suffering outdoors. Dogs are often tied up outside 24 hours a day, sometimes with nothing more than a card table, a plastic carrier or an overturned trash can for shelter. Some dogs have no shelter whatsoever.

One example of the latter is Noel, a starving pit bull mix who was found by PETA fieldworkers tethered to the trunk of a holly bush and shivering violently in the December cold. Noel had no shelter, no water and no food unless you count the few pieces of kibble scattered on the ground, out of her reach. PETA rushed her to a vet, who estimated that she was roughly half her healthy weight.

Sadly, Noel’s case is not unique. In December, two dogs froze to death after being dumped outside the Terre Haute, Ind., animal shelter.

A stray cat named Trooper was found frozen to a driveway in Newfoundland after apparently being hit by a car and breaking his hip. His body temperature was so low that it didn’t register on a thermometer. His tail and one leg had to be amputated because of frostbite.

A kitten named Rocky Balboa by Sioux City, Iowa, shelter staff because of his fighting spirit was found near death, frozen to a trash can.

Two dead pit bulls were found frozen to the ground – one in Memphis, Tenn., and the other in Philadelphia – after neighbors called police. “It makes me want to cry. I hate animal cruelty. … (I)t hurts my heart,” said one neighbor.

Dogs may have fur coats, but they are not immune to the cold any more than a person wearing a coat would be if he or she were to sit outside on the frozen ground all day. Many dogs, including short-haired breeds such as pointers and pit bulls, young or elderly dogs and small dogs such as Chihuahuas, dachshunds and beagles, are even less able to handle the cold than humans are.

Neglected and abandoned animals need our help to survive. Stray and feral cats should be captured and taken indoors. If a dog is being denied adequate food, water or shelter, please alert authorities right away.

In Noel’s case, a call from a neighbor saved her life, and her abusive owner was charged and banned from ever owning animals again. Today, Noel is thriving in her new home. She may not have quite as many coats as Jasper has, but she never has to worry about being left out in the cold again.”


Alisa Mullins / People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals 


*Life With Dogs has no affiliation with PETA, nor are we trying to promote them in this article.  The latter half of the article, written by Alisa Mullins, was published in a number of newspapers, and was reshared here for the explicit purpose of highlighting one person’s experiences and views on animals left in the cold.




12 thoughts on “Help Pets Left Outside in the Cold”

  1. I was ready to share this article until I saw you brought PETA into the mix. I absolutely refuse to give them any kind of recognition. They don’t run any shelters. They take in tons of money, but very little actually goes to caring for animals. Their philosophy is that no one should have a pet. They DO NOT rehome their animals. There are instances where they PUT DOWN the animals that were put in their care. This is documented and can be found with a simple google.

    I have NO use for this organization. Quite frankly, I am sad that you included them in your article. I would bet that Nigel Buggers would not be happy, either.

    • This article is not about giving PETA recognition, but giving recognition to the person who wrote the second portion about their own dog and others who have suffered. She has some affiliation with them – not us – and we’re not plagiarists, so we give credit where credit is due. Regardless of your personal opinion of PETA, the message is still an important one, and I’m sorry that you feel it is more important to voice your opinion about one particular organization than to share such a vital message.

      • I DO put out notices every winter about this on my personal and business facebook pages. I don’t ignore the problem. I do, however, ignore PETA.

    • DON’T SHARE IT FOR PETA. They aren’t freezing to death.

  2. Such an important message – could save so many lives as some people are just plain ignorant and don’t realise dogs can be susceptible to the cold

  3. Im sure the police Will take Care of it right after the’re done with all the murders and bankruberies and bicycle thefts

    • Informing people about action to prevent dogs from freezing to death will not swamp, I am certain, police departments so that murders are no longer investigated and missing bicycles are found. I honestly don’t see police departments interrupting their investigations, saying: NO! WE ARE TOO BUSY ADVISING PEOPLE TO TAKE THEIR DOGS IN IF IT IS COLD. SORRY, FOLKS WE CAN’T SOLVE ANY CRIMES RIGHT NOW.

      Bank ROBBERIES. 😀

  4. If they won’t do anything call animal control and tell them about everything that happened and if you need to, do it anonymously. Also if they won’t for some really odd reason, call PETA. They will help. They are known to sometimes getting In others business to make them become vegan or whatever so there is no doubt they will do something about it


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