Madison County has seen temperatures consistently below freezing for the last two weeks and, in some cases, at or below the zero mark. The temperatures with the addition of the wind can make being outside taxing and outright dangerous. It’s easier to protect against the cold for humans, but can get more difficult when it comes to pets.
Nevertheless, making sure animals are fortified against the cold is not only an important topic to remember, but it’s also the law.
“Ohio law requires a dog or any animal to have adequate shelter, a fresh water supply, and available food if they are going to be outside,” said Madison County Dog Warden Chris Floyd. “The keyword with all that is adequate.” Having a dog house or shelter isn’t sufficient if the shelter has no form of insulation. Pet owners can use straw, hay, blankets and other ways to keep animals warm.
“The water is important. People will put a dish of water out in the morning and, in temperatures like these, it will freeze pretty quick. That stops it from being a ‘fresh’ supply. It needs either emptied and refilled constantly or fresh in the form of some kind of heated bowl,” Floyd said. “Food is a little easier. As long as the animal has access to a food supply, the pet owner is in compliance.”
Floyd said that although there are no specifics with regard to air temperature restrictions, the common sense approach of “if you’re cold, they’re cold” is absolutely valuable.
“Some dogs, depending on their breed, can handle cold weather better. But think of it as a child. If you wouldn’t put your child out there, then don’t leave a pet out,” Floyd said.
The Dog Warden and the Madison County Humane Society both have had calls in the last couple of weeks with regard to animals and weather. Humane Society Director Meg Werner said that she has received numerous calls but, depending on the circumstance, will direct people to the Dog Warden.
“We have gotten calls from residents concerned about animals they’ve seen and in those situations, you would want to call the Dog Warden,” Werner said. The treatment and living conditions of animals will then be checked into by Floyd. “If poor conditions are found and the owner cannot correct them, the animals will be brought to us.”
Werner reinforced the common sense approach when residents or pet owners are in doubt.
“Pet owners have to be compliant with the food, water, and shelter, but it does come down to observable conditions,” she said. “If a human can feel how cold it is, an animal can, too.”
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.