Bitter cold is pushing down from the Arctic, and animals are just as vulnerable as humans to weather-related trauma. If you see a pet left out in the cold, speak up. Contact local law enforcement agencies because pets left outside in extreme temperatures, especially without food and shelter, are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite and even death. Their owners are at risk of facing criminal charges.
The National Weather Service is forecasting hazardous conditions due to bone-chilling temperatures Thursday evening through Saturday morning. A wind chill watch is in effect throughout Maine. Wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph are anticipated, with wind chill values of minus 20 to 40, from the coast to the mountains.
The act of leaving a pet outside without food or adequate shelter often receives less attention than a violent attack against an animal, but neglect is a crime.
One of the most common forms of animal cruelty, cases of animals left outside in dangerous weather are investigated more by police and animal control agencies than any other form of animal abuse. Our most constant companions—dogs and cats—feel the effects of winter weather as much as we do, only they are often cast outside to weather the cold or a storm owing to a misconception that the fur on their backs will insulate them from suffering. Without proper shelter, food and water, these domesticated animals’ chances of survival in frigid temperatures is greatly decreased. Any pet owners who aren't sure what protections their pets need during cold weather can read the Humane Society’s cold-weather advice for keeping pets safe.
- Animal neglect is considered a misdemeanor crime in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
- Felony penalties can be levied in Massachusetts and Oklahoma for any animal neglect case.
- Felony charges can be applied in animal neglect resulting in death in California, Connecticut, Florida and Washington, D.C.
- Report what you see: Take note of the date, time, exact location and the type of animal(s) involved and write down as many details as possible about the situation. Video and photographic documentation of the animal, the location, the surrounding area, etc. (even a cell phone photo) will help bolster your case.
- Contact your local animal control agency or county sheriff's office and present your complaint and evidence. Take detailed notes regarding whom you speak with and when. Respectfully follow up in a few days if the situation has not been remedied.
- If you need advice, call the HSUS or email the organization.
- If you have pets, follow advice for keeping them safe in cold weather.