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Important tips to keep your pet safe from the bitter cold

In very cold weather, even short trips outside can pose some risk to your pet.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In very cold weather, even short trips outside can pose some risk to your pet.

Booties are great for protecting your their feet if they will wear them, but if not just keep trips outside short and wipe their paws off when you come back in, as the salt used on icy roads can be harmful if not removed. If they are wet when they come back inside, dry them off as soon as they come in so they can warm up.

When it comes to the amount of time spent outside in cold weather, the saying “if you’re cold, they’re cold” is a good general rule, but there some exceptions. 

Consider the breed of dog. 

Some bigger, very fluffy dogs like Huskies and Samoyeds are built for cold weather climates and love the cold. If you are concerned about the amount of time a dog in your community is spending outside and it is one of these big, fluffy breeds, speaking to the owner about it first is definitely your best course of action if you feel comfortable doing so. 

You will likely find that they are as exasperated as you are about the amount of time they’re spending outside!

If the dog you are concerned about is not one of these cold climate loving breeds, and you don’t feel comfortable speaking to the owners or you have but still have reason to be concerned, you can contact the municipal Animal Services or Animal Control agency for that area and ask that they check on the animal in question.

Credit: LITTLE ROCK ANIMAL VILLAGE
Credit: LITTLE ROCK ANIMAL VILLAGE

In Little Rock that would be the Little Rock Animal Village. They can be reached by phone Monday-Friday 8am-5pm at 501-376-3067. After hours or on weekends, if you feel it is an emergency situation where the animal is in imminent danger and can’t wait until normal business hours, you can call the “non-emergency” phone number for the Little Rock Police Department, and they can have an Animal Control Officer dispatched. 

If you are outside of Little Rock and aren’t sure who to contact about an animal welfare concern, a google search for the city (or county if outside city limits) name + “Animal Control” or “Animal Services” can point you to them. In some areas however there is no municipal Animal Control department, in which case the Sheriff’s Office is typically responsible for enforcing animal welfare-related laws and ordinances.

Credit: LITTLE ROCK ANIMAL VILLAGE

In Arkansas, domestic animals must always have access to adequate shelter from the elements (meaning wind, rain, and temperature), and access to fresh food and fresh water.

In Little Rock, they also cannot be chained or tethered to a stationary object (although “trolley lines” are allowed). When it comes to “direct point chaining,” the laws vary based on location in Arkansas. 

For example, outside of city limits in Pulaski County direct point chaining is not illegal. Another quick google search can usually tell you what the rules are where you live. Animal Services can issue citations for violations of these standards and even seize the animal in question in some cases, especially if they are found to be in imminent danger.

If you are concerned about an animal in your community who is left outside for long periods, please don’t wait until it is really cold or really hot to contact Animal Services if you think that is your best course of action. 

When the temperatures become extreme, your local Animal Services agency is flooded with these calls and may be struggling to respond to them all as quickly as they (or you) would like, or as quickly as the animal in question needs. 

In some cases there is not a violation they can act on until the temperature becomes extreme enough that no outdoor dog house could provide “adequate” shelter from the elements, but in most situations that would cause a bystander concern there are violations that could be acted on legally before temperatures reach that point. The people tasked with enforcing animal welfare protections in that area will appreciate having the opportunity to address those as soon as possible, before they become truly life-threatening situations.