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If you see a pet left out in the cold, here’s who you should call

Temperatures will be dangerously low this weekend

ST. LOUIS — Temperatures in the St. Louis area have been below freezing all week and will continue to drop even more in the coming days, with highs below the teens.

The freezing cold temperatures are a good reminder for pet owners to bring pets inside, and to be on the lookout for pets left outside by others.

Just like people, animals struggle in cold temperatures. 

Puppies and senior dogs have more difficulty regulating their body temperature. The Humane Society of Missouri said even pets with thick coats are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia.

Earlier this week, Stray Rescue of St. Louis saw firsthand how dangerous these temperatures can be for animals.

A volunteer with the rescue found a doghouse sitting in the middle of nowhere and quickly realized it wasn’t empty. Inside the doghouse was a white dog with a collar, frozen to death. With the dog was cuddled with her newborn puppies, who also didn’t survive the cold.

"They were discarded like trash. They didn't deserve it. If anyone simply cannot bring their pets inside and are willing to surrender them, we will take them here at Stray Rescue," executive director Cassady Caldwell said.  

The City of St. Louis is also warning residents against leaving pets out in the cold. It is a violation of Ordinance 71060 in the city to leave pets outside when its 32 degrees or lower. The city shared pictures of two dogs that were rescued from the cold by CARE STL.

Credit: City of St. Louis Government

If you see an animal left outside in the cold, there are several organizations you can call to report it. 

Here is a list of local places to call: 

With the extremely cold temperatures, some local shelters are bringing in more dogs than they have space for and are in desperate need of foster homes.

If you can't foster, you can also help by donating items like straw, crates, leashes and more. You can always give a monetary donation as well.

Here's a list of several shelters across the area you can help:

Below are cold weather tips from the Humane Society of Missouri:

  • Bring pets inside: Pets cannot be outside for long periods of time in this weather. A common misconception that fur will protect a pet in cold weather is just that, a misconception! Just like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite and should not be left outside in the cold for prolonged periods of time, no matter the circumstance.
  • Provide a cozy space: If there are no other options and animals are going to be left outdoors, owners must provide a well-insulated, draft-free, appropriately sized doghouse with a sturdy, flexible covering to prevent icy winds from entering. Adequate shelter is mandatory by law.
  • Press “paws” on pet injuries: Upon coming inside, check your animal’s paws for signs of cold-weather damage, such as a cracked paw pad, redness between toes and any bleeding, as well as chemicals such as rock salt.
  • Layer up your pup: If your dog has a thinner coat or seems bothered by cooler temperatures, consider a sweater or a dog coat. But be careful – a wet sweater or coat can actually make your dog colder, so keep it dry.
  • Schedule your winter wellness exam: If your pet has not visited the veterinarian for their annual wellness exam, don’t delay. Cold weather can worsen certain medical conditions such as arthritis, so bring your pets into the vet when it’s safe outside!