Leaving pets outside in cold temps ‘inhumane,’ Richmond shelter director says

Posted at 10:20 AM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-17 11:13:26-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) Director Christie Chipps-Peters worries about the pets that some families leave outside on frigid cold days like Wednesday.

CBS 6 meteorologists forecast highs in the low to mid 30s. N/NW breezes from 10-20 mph will make it feel like the 10s & 20s throughout the day.

“There is absolutely no excuse for your dogs being outside in the cold today,” Chipps-Peters stated.

In fact, keeping your dogs and cats safe in cold temperatures is covered by Virginia law.

“The tethering code does reference cold weather. Anything super hot or super cold [your pet] has to come inside. You cannot tether your dog outside for more than an hour in inclement weather. But even for people who have proper outside setups, 12 degrees is not humane,” she explained.

Hyperthermia is quick, especially among pit bulls.

“The bulk of the population in the city are pit bulls. They are not outside dogs. They have zero fur. They are cold when it’s 40 degrees and subjecting them to freezing temperatures tonight is inhumane,” Chipps-Peters said.

The North American Veterinary Community reported frostbite is also a big concern for animals during the winter months.

RACC encourages the public to speak up and report pets left outside without adequate shelter. She also urges families who need assistance to reach out to the city shelter.

The Chamberlayne Avenue shelter offers crates and can deliver supplies if you don’t have transportation. Straw is also available during the winter at no charge.

“We write tickets every single day so we need you to follow the rules and bring your dogs in to keep them from dying in these freezing cold temperatures,” Chipps-Peters said. “Your intervention may save that pet’s life.”

Here are some more tips for pet owners:

  • If you have a cat, keep in mind that their fur isn't as thick as most dogs, so it is especially important that they be brought inside
  • Be careful using salt that is put down to reduce slipping on ice. It is an irritant on paws so you don't want your pets exposed to it for too long.
  • Consider getting your pets boots for the snow so they would have a limited exposure

If you need assistance in caring for your animals RACC can help through their intake line (804) 646-5573.

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