LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A layer of snow and ice on the ground may be a playground for some pets, for others, it’s unpleasant.
As temperatures drop, local animal shelters warn all pets need protection from the elements. Rebecca Van Schepen woke up about the issue while at work Tuesday, surrounded by furry faces at the Kentucky Humane Society.
“We slept on dog beds and blankets,” she said. “I slept in my outfit, then I got up and went straight to work.”
Van Schepen, a veterinary technician, was one of six KHS staff members who stayed overnight Monday in case ice and snow from a winter storm made roads impassable in the morning.
“The animals are always our first priority, we just wanted to make sure that were taken care of,” she said. “We just gave them some extra love, and some extra cookies and made sure everybody was warm. We even snuggled some in the night.”
Van Schepen told WAVE 3 she hopes pet owners are paying close attention to their animals at home.
“If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your animal,” she said.
Louisville Metro Animal Services has received close to 100 calls for neglected animals this season. Animal Control Supervisor Adam Hamilton says only two of those calls have been serious.
“A lot of people are calling because they see animals out using the bathroom, but by the time we get there the owner’s have already put them back in the house,” he said. “With the resources we have we want to spend it on the animals that really need it. What we’re looking for is no shelter is the big one, and then if they’ve been outside for a long period of time.”
Hamilton said pet owners should not hesitate to bring their pets inside when temperature drop. However, he explained that “outdoor” pets, or pets who thrive in the cold, still need an insulated shelter with a properly covered doorway.
“We don’t recommend blankets, cause if the dog is wet, and goes and lays on the blanket, the blanket will freeze,” he said. “We recommended straw, it stays dry and warm.”
If it gets cold enough, Van Schepen said pet owners may need to shorten walks, protect their pet’s paw and ensure they stay hydrated. She also warned that hypothermia can set in quickly if pet owners aren’t careful.
“The signs are shivering, the gums can get blue, they can be like disorientated, like they’re not really there, lethargic. But if you’re in a severe case it can even lead to something like a coma. It’s dangerous.”
Find more ways to protect pets from winter weather here.
LMAS is offering straw for free to anyone who needs to insulate a doghouse or pet shelter. The Arrow Fund donated the straw. It can be picked up between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, at the LMAS facility on Newburg Road.
To report a neglected animal or an animal without proper shelter, call (502) 473-PETS, or submit a service request at www.louisvilleky.gov/animal-services.