Happy new year! It took a little longer than usual here in Chicagoland, but winter is finally upon us. With the falling temps and increased snow mounds, effective Jan. 1, there is also a new law in Illinois to help protect our furry friends from the weather conditions and we feel it is important for our faithful followers to be aware of it.
According to the addition to the “cruel treatment” subsection of the Humane Care for Animals Act:
“No owner of a dog or cat that is a companion animal may expose the dog or cat in a manner that places the dog or cat in a life-threatening situation for a prolonged period of time in extreme heat or cold conditions that results in injury to or death of the animal.”
Full text of the Law: http://ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=099-0311
Pet owners found in violation of this law can now be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 if found guilty.
We have seen some concerns on social media from pet owners about what exactly this means. You might recall a number of stories during last year’s particularly brutal winter about dogs and cats freezing to death outside. Before this law, there was no specific wording to punish irresponsible “owners” who allowed those poor, defenseless companion animals to suffer so horribly. This is not a law meant to punish responsible owners and their pets who like to enjoy the winter weather together; it is about people who leave their dogs unattended for hours in unsafe extreme weather, which in addition to death depending on the season can also lead to hypothermia and extreme frostbite in the winter, or heat stroke in the summer.
Pets are Family:
Here at Fetching Tails, we believe our dogs should be treated as beloved family members, and therefore include in our adoption contracts that dogs will live indoors at their forever homes. Responsible pet ownership means being attentive to your furry friends and making sure they are comfortable in all weather conditions. Some dogs really love the winter weather and have a great time running around in fresh snow, but be mindful that just because they have big fur coats doesn’t mean prolonged exposure to low temperatures can’t negatively affect them. They can still easily get frostbite on their paws and ears, so when it is especially cold try to regulate how long they are allowed outside. When you get too cold, it is time for them to come inside, too.
Keep Warm & Feet Clean:
With proper planning and attention, you and your pooch can still enjoy the winter months! There are many adorable and warm winter jackets, sweaters, and booties available to protect your pet outside (although, make sure what you purchase fits properly, and more importantly that your dog is comfortable wearing clothing as some dogs really don't like it and it isn't fair to stress them out!) Frequent shorts walks instead of one or two really long ones will help protect you and your dog from the cold. When going for a walk around the block, try to avoid allowing your dog stroll on sidewalks and driveways that have been sprinkled with de-icer salt because the chemicals used can irritate their paws even further (and are potentially poisonous if ingested by a pup licking his paws!) Have them walk in yards or parkways along sidewalks if possible. You can also put a thin, even layer of Vaseline or Bag Balm (both available at most pharmacies) on their paw pads to prevent contact with irritating chemicals and snow. Whether you add protective balm or not, make sure to wipe your dog's paw pads with a warm washcloth after your walks to clear away any chemicals or ice still stuck on their feet.
Spending more time indoors can be boring for some pups, so make sure to find new, entertaining activities for them to keep their minds and bodies active. Now is a good time to find fun toys for safe indoor play (for example, there are puzzle games for dogs in which they have to figure out how to release a treat from various toys that many dogs seem to love!) We are big advocates of training classes for our adopted dogs, so why not sign up for a session so you and your pup can review previously learned manners and pick up a new trick or two? Please feel free to share with us some of your favorite winter activities indoors and out!