Animal shelter: Protect pets from bitter cold weather

Columbus Animal Care Services says it is time to bring your outside pets into a sheltered space.

Nicohl Birdwell-Goodin, director of the city animal shelter says that the city requires outdoor dogs be brought into a temperature controlled building when it drops to below 20 degrees outside.

The agency is urging residents to protect their pets in the bitter cold. In addition to adequate shelter, you should make sure there is plenty of drinkable water and extra food. Check water bowls to make sure they haven’t frozen over. An outdoor pet is more likely to drink from puddles that may contain anti-freeze or other toxic chemicals if they can’t get to clean drinking water.

Dog houses should only be large enough for a pooch to turn around and not much more. It should be half filled with straw for bedding and insulation. Birdwell-Goodin said that straw is much better than blankets as dogs can burrow into the material for extra warmth, while blankets can get wet and freeze. You should face the opening to the south and cover the door with heavy plastic or cloth strips to keep the wind outside and the body heat inside.

She also warns that you should be checking under the hood of your vehicle before starting it, just in case outdoor cats are napping against the warm engine. She suggests knocking on the hood before starting it, to give them a chance to escape.