It’s no secret that the cold snap New England and some of the rest of the country is experiencing right now is dangerous, even life-threatening for people. The same is true for pets. So why do some dog and cat owners insist on leaving their pets outdoors in single-digit temperatures? Ignorance? Indifference? Or both?
On Tuesday, as the temperatures inched toward a high of 19 degrees in Connecticut, a man in Hartford found himself facing cruelty charges after his dog was discovered frozen to death in his backyard. According to police reports, the animal had no shelter from the weather. A Dighton, Massachusetts man was charged with animal cruelty after he left a puppy in a cold car while he went shopping inside a warm mall on Dec. 30. And last week, an Exeter, Rhode Island man was charged after 24 dogs were found in flimsy wooden crates in his yard in freezing temperatures.
All three states have animal cruelty laws that impose varying degrees of penalties against animal owners who abuse their pets. But, we have to wonder why it takes the threat of a fine or jail time to force people to use common sense?
If it is too hot or too cold inside a car for a person, then the same holds true for a pet.
Like people, animals need adequate food, water and shelter. They have health needs and most dogs and some cats long for companionship and attention too.
It doesn’t take an animal expert to recognize that tethering a dog outdoors for hours at a time, or leaving a de-clawed feline outside to fend for itself against potential predators is dangerous and thoughtless. So is carelessly allowing dogs to run near traffic unleashed or leaving hazards around the house like spilled anti-freeze or other poisons.
We welcome pets into our homes to be companions and protectors. If we want a dog or cat, rabbit or hamster to be a part of the family then we should treat them as such. A pet is a life-long commitment, so let’s commit to giving them long and happy lives.