When temperatures begin to get colder, humane agents hit the alleyways of all the cities and villages to look for animals that may not have adequate shelter. This is done in a proactive manner using humane education to help prevent any potential suffering of an animal.
Fayette Regional Humane Society (FRHS) Chief Humane Agent and Outreach Director Brad Adams explained, “if we find that an animal may not have the best shelter to protect them from the elements, we try to make personal contact with the animal owner to provide suggestions to improve shelter. If the owner isn’t home, we leave a friendly letter that talks about the importance of adequate shelter and how to improve the structure, and will then follow up later.”
FRHS had approximately six dog houses in storage that had previously been donated. The purpose of the houses was to provide pet owners with housing for their outdoor dogs if they were unable to do so themselves during extreme weather, whether it be heat or cold.
Adams wrote via email, “it’s important to keep outdoor animals protected from the elements to keep them safe, and it’s the law too.”
Dogs should have adequate housing that isn’t too big or too small for them. If a dog house is too large, it is more difficult for dogs to retain warmth generated by their body heat. If it’s too small, they won’t have easy access to get inside out of the elements or to rest comfortably.
Dog houses should have three sides, a floor and a roof. They should also have a door on the front that is appropriately sized so the dog may easily enter and exit. It is also helpful to add some type of material in the doorway to add windbreak, but make sure the dog isn’t frightened by the material to where it won’t go inside — also avoid using material the dog may chew and choke on.
Dog houses should be elevated from the ground by a few inches with plenty of straw added inside and around the shelter for good bedding and insulation. People should avoid using blankets because they become wet and frozen.
Aside from adequate shelter, outdoor dogs should be provided with more nutrition because they burn more calories to stay warm. All animals need access to fresh, clean, unfrozen water at all times during confinement. Water becomes frozen during cold temperatures pretty quickly so it is important to ensure that they have water to drink for good hydration.
While it isn’t a law to provide outdoor “unconfined” cats with shelter, Adams urged those with outdoor cats to be kind and provide something for them to go inside of.
“I see all kinds of porches with small boxes that animal loving citizens have built for outdoor cats. There are many suggestions on how to make homemade cat boxes online especially on social media outlets like Pinterest,” wrote Adams. “If anyone sees an animal outdoors confined without access to shelter, food, water or other care, please report it so that we may investigate. The laws regarding animals having adequate shelter is only for confined animals, not animals roaming loose.”
Adams further noted that providing shelter for all animals such as horses or rabbits, not just dogs and cats, is important to the well-being of the animal. Those who need assistance with providing straw for their animals can contact FRHS for assistance.
“We’ve had a couple citizens upset with us in the past because they reported a dog or cat without shelter, but they were not confined and roaming loose, therefore we have no authority to enforce laws about shelter. Dogs that are roaming loose should be reported to the dog warden,” explained Adams.
FRHS, located at 153 S. Main St. in Washington C.H., can be reached at 740-335-8126. Follow FRHS on Facebook, “Fayette Regional Humane Society.” or its website, www.fayetteregionalhumane.org/, for updates.