PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – You can’t forget your pets in this weather.

It’s so cold that state police are warning that troopers will file criminal charges against anyone who fails to provide shelter for their pets.

It’s not just people who can run into trouble with bone chilling cold. Our pets can too.

“They can get frostbite just like we can. They can get hypothermia, so we have to be real careful,” Dr. Mike Hutchinson said.

Dr. Hutchinson, of Animal General, said the best solution is to avoid having your pets outside for more than a just a few minutes.

“If possible in this weather, below zero with wind chills, bring them indoors. Put them in the basement or the garage if you can where it’s a little bit warmer. Provide plenty of fresh water and a little more food if they are outdoors because they burn a lot more calories to keep warm,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

Don’t simply assume your dog has enough fur and will be fine outside.

“As long as they have been outdoors and not shedding that fur away because indoor dogs have thinner fur coats than outdoor dogs. So, if they are an outdoor dog they do have a little more protection,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

Pennsylvania State Police are reminding pet owners that according to state law, animals must have sufficient shelter, food and water.

Failure to provide adequate shelter and provisions can to lead to charges of cruelty to animals — an offense that can lead to $300 in fines and up to 90 days in jail. A second offense is a third-degree misdemeanor and a third offense results in a criminal record.

If you see animals that may be at risk after being left out in the cold for prolonged periods of time, contact your local humane society or local law enforcement.

Calls should be made for severe cases, but you need to know that not all humane agencies have enforcement officers and after-hours resources are extremely thin.

“I’m glad that they are enforcing it because we are stewards and we are supposed to take care of our pets. That’s our responsibility and when the weather gets extreme, it’s expected. We know it’s coming, we’ve got to provide for those pets,” Dr. Hutchinson said.


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