Toledo shelter fielding numerous calls about pets left in the cold

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TOLEDO (WTVG) - The early cold we're dealing with serves as an important reminder about your pets and the cold.

While it seems like plain old common sense, it's a message worth repeating. That's because there continue to be cases of animals being left out in the elements without proper shelter and care.

According to leaders at the Toledo Area Humane Society, about 75% of the calls to the shelter's cruelty division this week have been about animals left in the cold. Extreme weather conditions are one of the reasons TAHS has added another layer to its cruelty unit.

In recent years there have only been two cruelty investigators on staff. The recent addition of a third officer has allowed the shelter to expand coverage to nights, weekends and extreme weather. The goal is to have a total of four officers on staff in the coming months. Two will be full time and two will be part time.

When it comes to pets in the cold, here are a few tips from the experts:

• Use pet-safe salt
• Wipe their paws when they come in. Your pets can pick up all kinds of toxic chemicals during winter walks.
• Check under the hood of any vehicles left outside. Cats often curl up there to keep warm.

If you have a fenced-in yard or pet containment system, let your pet outside to go the bathroom and bring them right back in. If you don't have a fence, keep your dogs on a leash at all times. Vets say it's not uncommon for dogs to be hit by cars this time of year because of the bitter temperatures. Some pet owners don't want to be in the cold, so they just let their pet loose to go the bathroom.

Experts also point out that more dogs are lost in the winter than any other season because if they do get loose, snowfall can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home.

If your pets have to stay outside, try to get them into a garage or basement during the coldest times. Make sure they have fresh, unfrozen water at all times. Feed them more than usual because they burn more calories in the cold. Use straw instead of blankets to insulate any shelter for your pets. Blankets often get wet and then freeze, which means they provide no warmth.

Finally, make sure the information on your pet's collar is current and that they are microchipped.

If you need to report animal cruelty or neglect, call the Toledo Area Humane Society at 419-891-0705.