Colder weather is on the way; how to protect your pets

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INDIANAPOLIS – Winter weather is on the way, and a local organization is making sure people are prepared to protect any outdoor pets.

Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS) says it is against City-County ordinance to keep your pet outdoors if the temperature falls below 20 degrees or if a wind chill advisory has been issued. People failing to care for their pets in cold weather could face fines or jail time. Those who choose to disobey the law can expect to be ticketed and pay a fine of up to $200.

While the best place for pets is inside, IACS says if they are kept outdoors, they must have access to dry shelter. A structure with space to move around will help shield animals from the elements.

When temperatures hit below 40 degrees, dogs must have shelter that is insulated with bedding, such as straw, and a cover over the opening that will allow the dog to shield itself from the cold temperatures to stay warm. Outdoor dogs must also be able to access water and can’t be chained or tethered outside between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outdoors (FIDO) is offering help to those who need it. They are offering straw or crates so they can come inside.

“Dogs like to be outside but not overnight when it’s miserably cold,” Darcie Kurtz, executive director of FIDO said. “We help with things like training crates to help transition them inside, things to keep them occupied, bones and things and flea treatment.”

What the dangers are that pets face in the cold

The IACS says animals are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as you are. Bring them inside as often as you can and, when nature calls, accompany them when they venture outdoors.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can also cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin. The ASPCA also says winter walks can be dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off bare paws.

The ASPCA suggests bringing a towel on long walks to clean off paws. They also suggest washing and drying your pet’s stomach and feet to remove ice, salt, and chemicals and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.

How to get help for a pet left out in the cold

If you’re concerned about the safety of an animal, you can report an address on the Request Indy website or app (iOS or Android). To report an animal outside, select “animals” and then “abuse.” Information submitted through the app goes to on-duty animal care officers.

Indy residents can call FIDO at 221-1314 or visit their website to arrange for drop off of straw for outdoor dogs or crates so families can bring their dog in the house.

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