ST. LOUIS — These cold temperatures aren't just dangerous for people, they could be potentially deadly if you have any outside pets.

There's actually a way to still protect them, yet few have taken advantage of the program.

"Shelter is very important this time of year," said Alex Huelsmann, a caregiver at CARE STL.

CARE STL is the new name for the St. Louis Animal Control Shelter. It's one of a handful of area agencies that's passing out free straw to help you insulate outside dog houses and pet shelters.

"We try to pack them in there as much as we can that way we can have it, you know, on hand," he says.

A little straw goes a long way towards keeping them warm and dry.

"It’s a way to keep moisture off them, it’s a way to keep their bedding a little bit warmer, gives them a little bit of insulation," Huelsmann said.

Any city resident can pick up hay, for free, at CARE STL's headquarters at 2801 Clark Avenue.

You can also call:

St. Louis County Animal Shelter: 314-615-0650

Jefferson County Animal Control: 636-797-5577

St. Charles Humane Services: 636-949-7387

Belleville Area Humane Society: 618-235-3712

Franklin County Humane Society: 636-583-4300

In St. Louis, it appears to be the best-kept secret in town.

"I mean I didn’t know about it," Huelsmann said.

They've only given out about 3 bales since the new year began. Alex hopes to change that trend.

"Dogs brought me out of a dark place and it was a shelter dog in particular so I just want to bring them out of that place," Huelsmann said.

A few other tips: make sure you keep the straw dry or change it out every now and then.

You'll also want to replace their water bowl often because it will freeze in these temperatures.

If you don't have time to go get straw, blankets will also do the trick.