Calls about animals left shivering, crying in the cold flood SPCA, Beagle Paws

As the province hunkered down under extreme cold warnings and temperatures well below -10 C Wednesday and overnight into Thursday, Sandra Woito, intake coordinator with the Beagle Paws, says she just couldn't get to sleep.

"I [kept] thinking about the dogs out there with no heat source and on top of that being in an inadequate shelter. No flaps on the doors, the hallways, no bedding," Woito told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show

She said Beagle Paws, an organization with chapters across the country that rescues and re-homes mistreated beagles, got around 25 calls on Wednesday about dogs left out in the cold. 

"And that's just beagles," she said. "There's a lot of other dogs out there as well, and cats."

The first call, she said, was for "a little wee beagle, tied to a dog house, no bedding, no flap on the door. And she was pacing back and forth, back and forth, trying to stay warm."

Others were about animals outside crying, barking and howling in the frigid air, she said.

Tied-on animals will lie down and freeze

Household pets like dogs and cats are affected by the cold just like we are, says Frances Drover, president of the NL West SPCA.

"It affects their ears and their paws. Many dogs don't have a lot of fur, so they will get cold quickly," she said.

Cats aren't likely to try to get outside in the temperatures currently freezing the province and owners shouldn't encourage or force them, she said.

Scott Neufeld/CBC

Even so-called outdoor dogs like huskies need to be protected from cold snaps, she said.

"You can't have them out tied on. These animals can survive if they can run and move around in the cold for a period of time, but they still must have access to shelter, access to water and food and things like that," she said.

"An animal that's out and tied on has no recourse. They're only going to lie down and they're going to freeze."

It's a criminal offence, Drover says

There are standards for doghouses and outdoor enclosures, said Woito.

Doghouses need a flap and a hallway leading to the sleeping area and it shouldn't be directly on the ground, she said.

But ultimately, in temperatures like these, it's best to let pets in the house or even to keep them in an insulated part of the garage.

"It's just too cold right now. They shouldn't be out there, period. Unless they have an actual heat source, they shouldn't be out there."

John Voos/Reuters

Drover agrees and said people need to remember that mistreating animals is a criminal offence.

Both the SPCA and Beagle Paws will accept anonymous phone calls or messages alerting them of a animal that needs help.

Those organizations will then report the call to the police, who will investigate and get help if it's needed.

"People need to step up to the plate and be our eyes and ears and let us know. Don't ignore us," said Woito. "All we need is an address."

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