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Law helps keep pets out of harsh weather

PHOTO PROVIDED Lucky the “TurfMutt” is a real live superhero who serves as the “spokesdog” for the OPEI Education & Research Foundation’s TurfMutt environmental stewardship and educational program by Scholastic.

LOCK HAVEN — It has been cold, very cold.

In Pennsylvania, this time of year, one thing is certain… there will be more cold. More ice. More snow.

If the outside weather is too treacherous for you… it is too treacherous for your pets, too.

In fact, under Libre’s Law, which went into effect in 2017, a dog cannot be left leashed and alone outside for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures that exceed 90 degrees or drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Experiencing single degree or sub-zero temperatures locally, it is key to keep your critters safe and inside as they can easily catch hypothermia or frostbite.

Experts say when you bring your dog outside in the cold, make sure to do it fast… and consider bundling them up in a dog jacket or coat.

We are in the dead of winter and there will be more cold.

Weather forecasts are calling for more freezing rain and snow today, tomorrow and Thursday night. Current forecasts are projecting a low of just 5 degrees on Friday and 12 degrees on Saturday.

Pet owners found in violation of Libre’s Law restrictions could face up to $750 in fines and up to 90 days in jail.

Harsher penalties are given to those waho intentionally torture, neglect or abuse their pets. Third-degree animal abuse felony charges include fines up to $15,000 and up to seven years in jail.

Even first time offenders could face felony charges for mistreating or neglecting pets — including cruelly subjecting them to harsh winter weather — if the animal suffers severe bodily injury or death as a result.

Owners who are found guilty of abuse will be forced to forfeit their pets to local shelters.

Libre’s Law is named for a Boston terrier who was found tied outside a Lancaster County farm emaciated and ill. Libre has since made a full recovery and was present at the bill’s signing into law.

“For far too long we have heard stories of neglected and abused animals who suffered because of deplorable treatment, and with our new landmark anti-cruelty legislation in place, penalties will be enforced for individuals who abuse or neglect an animal,” said Governor Wolf at the time the law was passed.

As for cats, felines are natural heat-seekers. Cats are creatures of comfort, and the most comfortable cat is a warm cat.

In fact, according to North Shore Animal League America, the best way to ensure cats are safe and comfortable is to keep them inside at all times.

When it comes to keeping pets inside, be mindful of fireplaces and space heaters.

Flying sparks from a fireplace can hurt pets, keep them at a safe distance. Do not leave pets unattended in a room with a space heater, as it could possibly start a fire.

Be careful to keep de-icing products and other chemicals securely out of reach. Ingesting a tiny amount of these substances can kill a cat.

Houseplants can also pose a serious threat to cats. Very often, when plants are brought in for the winter, cats are unwittingly exposed to potential poisoning.

Despite efforts, cats can sometimes get hypothermia during winter. Exposure to the elements can have severe consequences.

Symptoms of mild hypothermia include shivering, weakness, a lack of mental awareness or an inability to concentrate.

Symptoms of moderate hypothermia include muscle stiffness, low blood pressure and short or shallow breathing.

Pets exposed to the cold for too long can display severe hypothermia. Symptoms of this would include difficulty breathing and coma-like signs.

If you suspect a pet of having hypothermia, take them to the vet at once to ensure proper treatment.

Outdoor cats are often capable of looking after themselves, but it is key to look for the potential danger of frostbite.

Frostbite can appear grey or pale in color. With cats, it will affect the tips of their ears, the tail and the feet (especially the toes) first.

When it comes to pets and the cold, always monitor how long they are outside for. Different breeds can withstand different levels of cold and this should be accounted for.

Lucky’s Winter-Wise Weather Tips for Pets Owners

– Manage outdoor activities. The safest place for your pets is where you are. When temperatures dip below freezing, it is imperative you keep pets indoors and outside trips brief.

– Offer your pet a warm place inside. A pet bed works perfectly, just make sure it stays clean and dry.

– Do not cut a dog’s fur in the winter. Your pet’s winter coat is a natural barrier from the harsh, cold elements.

– Consider a canine coat. Dogs with lots of fur may not need an extra layer, but smaller dogs and those with shorter coats may be more comfortable in a sweater or jacket.

– Check for frostbite. After trips outside, check your pet’s ears, paws and tail for any sign of frostbite or ice/snow build up in their paw pads.

r Wipe down after walks. Keep a dry towel handy to wipe down your pet’s legs, belly and paws after each trip.

– Be careful with chemicals. Antifreeze smells and tastes sweet to pets, but it’s toxic. Ice-melt chemicals can irritate their skin and cause serious illness if ingested.

– Keep your pet hydrated. Ensure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water to drink.

– Make quick work of snow removal and create a path to your pet’s bathroom area.

– Do not leave your pet in a cold car. It is just as dangerous to leave a pet in a car during winter as it is to leave them in a hot car in the summer.

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