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Protecting pets in below freezing temperatures

10:48 PM, Dec 4, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA- There's no escaping the cold.Temperatures are well below freezing and the wind chill makes it feel even colder. While we bundle up to combat the cold, our animals cannot.

On Wednesday morning, Denver code enforcement took dozens of calls.

"Ranging from dogs left outside, no food or water and no shelter," said Animal Control officer, Andrew Martinez.

It's Martinez's job to check on pets left alone in the cold. He says not all calls warrant tickets, or notices.

But some do. Martinez has his repeat offenders.

Near one home he found two dogs, running through a neighborhood. The owners were nowhere to be found.

"They keep taking off like that, then they'll run down the street," Martinez said.

Under Denver law as long as a pet is healthy and has adequate shelter, it can be kept outside. But each case is unique.

"If there's no dog house, and it's skinny, in dire straits, we'll impound it," explained Martinez.

A concerned neighbor's call took him to another house in west Denver.

"Can I take a look at your dogs, what they've been complaining about is that they've been outside all day, all night, without food," Martinez told the owner.

He said there were no violations, but Martinez still had his concerns with the dogs' living arrangements.

"He has to sleep in that, you don't like to sleep in your food do you? If you keep the food like that he'll eventually get bugs, because the bugs eat the food and are going to get on his skin," said Martinez.

The shelter was made of cardboard boxes,  and tarps under a trampoline and under the law it's enough.

"We can't force them to bring them inside," said Martinez. "As long as they provide adequate shelter, they're out of the elements, not much we can do."

Other than some advice and a suggestion, he moves to his next call. There's no shortage on bitter cold days when we're all a risk, our pets perhaps the most.

Every weather event is different and every breed handles each one different, but if temperatures approach the freezing level or the 'feel like' temperature is anywhere near it, experts agree it's a good idea to take animals inside

Neglecting a pet or animal cruelty in extreme cold conditions can bring up to a $1,000 fine.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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