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When is it too cold to leave pets outside? Whenever it’s too cold for you to be outside

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Reports popped up across the country last week — both in the north and south — of dogs freezing to death after being left outside during a bitterly cold stretch of winter weather.

As single-digit temperatures gripped the eastern United States, local news outlets and animal welfare organizations were reminding people of what you would think any fool would know (but apparently they don’t) — that freezing temperatures can hurt and kill your dog.

The news reports made that much clear.

Police in Hartford, Conn., charged a woman with animal cruelty after a neighbor reported a dog frozen to death and still chained to a small shelter outside a home.

In Toledo, a dog was found frozen to death on a front porch last week, and three other frozen dogs were discovered last week in Franklin County, Ohio. In Butler County, Ohio, north of Cincinnati, a man was charged with cruelty after his dog was discovered frozen.

“The dog was found in an outside dog house with no insulation. The dog was frozen to death due to the severe cold weather …” read a Facebook post from Sheriff Richard K. Jones. “Freezing to death is a horrible way for an animal to die.”

In Michigan, Detroit Dog Rescue said a Pomeranian mix left outside its offices Monday night was found dead the next day. Another dog, found shivering in a barrel outdoors, was being treated for frostbite.

“Trying to escape the frigid temperatures he curled up and crouched down, but even his underbelly and penis began to freeze,” Detroit Dog Rescue said in a Facebook post. “His feet are so painful he doesn’t want to stand.”

In Aiken, S.C., a woman was cited after officers discovered a shivering dog chained outside in 15 degree temperatures, next to a puppy in a cage that appeared to have frozen to death.

In Knox County, Illinois, the owner of a black lab mix found eight newborn puppies frozen to death in the snow last week. According to WQAD, the owner claimed not to have known his dog, whom he kept outside despite below-freezing temperatures, was pregnant. A ninth puppy survived.

We could go on, but it’s just too maddening — the lack of common sense that can exist in some humans.

“Dogs, cats and horses depend on our care, especially during life-threatening cold snaps. Take the animals in, or somehow provide a safe environment for them,” Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.

Dogs aren’t immune from the cold, no matter how thick their coat. Bigger, furrier dogs, like huskies, can fare better in the extreme cold than a Chihuahua might. But all dogs can perish if left in extreme enough weather for long enough periods, as the chart above indicates.

Consult it, if you feel the need to. Better yet, just keep in mind that if it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for pets.

(Graphic: Petplan.com)

Unusually bold attacks see wild cats enter homes to snag dogs

The more we intrude on what was their domain, the more likely we are to have run-ins of the unpleasant variety with wildlife — even inside the safety of our homes.

In the past two weeks, two homeowners say wild cats entered their homes in pursuit of their pets — a mountain lion in San Mateo County, Calif., and a bobcat Plano, Texas.

In the California case, the mountain lion snatched a woman’s dog at night as she, her child and the pet slept in her bed.

Both intrusions were seen as uncommonly bold for the species, and both have served to renew local and regional debates on how best to handle the kinds of predators that, despite development, can still show up in suburban and rural areas.

Some, like the bobcat-encountering woman above, say get rid of them entirely — as in wipe them off the planet, or at least our ritzy suburb. Others favor trapping, tranquilizing, killing, relocating, or poisoning (which can be problematic for dogs, too). Some might favor taking a look at whatever more reasonable steps could lead to a more peaceful alliance.

We’d note at at the outset that, in both cases outlined here, the homeowners had left doors opened — so perhaps for people living in areas where such animals are sometimes sighted, shutting the damn door might be a good and sound first step.

That would have prevented what was a real life nightmare for Vickie Fought, of Pescadero, Calif. She and her daughter awoke to see their dog, a 15-pound Portuguese Podengo sleeping at the foot of the bed they shared, snatched and taken away by what has since been confirmed was a mountain lion.

About 3 a.m., the woman awoke in her home to hear the dog, named Lenore, barking. She glimpsed the shadow of an animal walking through her bedroom, according to NBC

Fought got out of bed and used a flashlight to look for her dog, but saw only large wet paw prints at the entrance of her bedroom.

Officers from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office collected a drop of blood found on the floor, which was taken to a wildlife forensics laboratory in Sacramento that same day.

Testing showed Monday that the blood included DNA from a mountain lion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Capt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the small dog was apparently what the mountain lion was after. Foy said it was the first case he’d heard of a mountain lion walking into a home.

“This person had left the door open, so the animal got in. That problem is fixed,” he added. “They’re not sleeping with the door open anymore.”

Earlier this week, in the suburbs of Dallas, a woman watched as a bobcat chased her miniature pinschers through an open door and into her house.

Plano resident Pat McDonald says she heard a scream and turned to see her female dog, Precious, running in the door. Behind the little dog, she says, was a bobcat. “He came right in,” she said.

McDonald says the large cat raced through her home and jumped on top of a six foot tall display cabinet. It ran back out, but not before biting the dog on the neck. Precious is expected to recover, according to CBS in Dallas.

Officials say it was the first instance they recall of bobcat entering someone’s home.

Charges dropped against veteran in Georgia who broke car window to save dog

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Authorities have dropped the charges filed against a veteran who was arrested after breaking a window to save a dog left inside a hot car in a shopping center parking lot.

Michael Hammons, 46, an Iraq War veteran who lives in Athens, Ga., used a leg support from his wife’s wheelchair to smash out the window of a Mustang.

At the insistence of the angry dog’s owner, who said she’d only let the dog alone for five minutes, Hammons was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Thousands subsequently came to his defense online and called Hammons a hero, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which announced last week it will be awarding Hammons its Compassionate Action Award.

PETA officials noted that temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to 100 to 120 degrees — even on a mild, 78-degree day like Saturday, May 9, when the incident took place.

A local Ford dealer in Athens offered to replace the broken window for free, WXIA in Atlanta reported.

Current Georgia law allows someone to break a window to save a person, but not an animal. Hammons arrest led to a call to change that law, as a handful of other states have.

“The laws need to be changed to protect the animals, not necessarily the people,” said Mark Martin, a pet store owner who rallied around Hammons’ cause. “We are the voices for the animals; they can’t speak for themselves.”

Ken Mauldin, district attorney for the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, said the car’s owner agreed with his decision to drop the charges.

Dog travels 250 miles lodged in car bumper

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Struck by a car and swallowed up behind the car’s bumper, a dog in China is reported to have traveled 250 miles before being extricated unharmed.

The stray dog ran out in front of a car driven by a man identified only as Mr. Zhang in China’s Hunan Province, according to Peoples Daily.

Zhang continued driving. “I was driving pretty quickly at the time so when I hit the dog, I thought it had either died or run away, so I didn’t get out of the car to check,” he later said.

When he heard whimpering and barking — apparently not until about 200 miles later —  he stopped the car and found the dog wedged between the car’s water tank and front bumper.

Afraid pulling the dog out might injure it, he got back in his car and drove to a veterinary clinic, where the dog was extricated and found not to have suffered any serious injuries.

Four days later, Zhang returned to the clinic and adopted the dog as his own.

Dog trapped in car honks til he’s freed

A veterinarian says a dog trapped in a car on a 90-degree day in eastern Pennsylvania honked the horn until he was rescued.

Nancy Soares said the 11-year-old chocolate Labrador — named Max — was brought to the Macungie Animal Hospital last month after he had been in the car for about an hour.

She said Max’s owner, Donna Gardner, of Upper Macungie Township, had gone shopping, returned home, unloaded her packages, but forgot that Max was still in the car. The owner later heard the horn honking, checked outside, then went back in. When she heard the horn honking again, she went outside and saw Max sitting in the driver’s seat, WFMZ reported.

Soares said the owner immediately gave Max cold water to drink and wet him down with towels before rushing him to the clinic, where — though he was warm and panting heavily — he was determined to have suffered no lasting injuries.

Stay at home, mom

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Yesterday, I came across the website Momlogic, by virtue of an article appearing therein that triggered my special Internet alarm that goes off when somebody, somewhere is verbally bashing dogs.

The article was headlined Your Dog Grosses Me Out.

In it, Jennifer Ginsberg — a Los Angeles mother, writer, addiction specialist and producer of the website angstmom — recounts a dinner party experience in which she encountered not one, but two dogs, who were not only inside the house, but behaved, well, like dogs.

“If you choose to cohabit with dogs, then how about putting them outside for meals and parties? I know that you consider them to be a part of the family, but they are animals, not people, and it is not acceptable for them to infringe on the comfort of your guests.”

She continues: “It is freaking annoying when I sit down on your fur-covered sofa with a plate of food and your dog stands one inch from me, panting his nasty doggy breath and whimpering as he begs for my crudites. My 2-year-old daughter didn’t enjoy when Shlomo sucked on her toes while she was eating birthday cake, either!

“Humanizing animals is a glaring example of our society’s broken moral compass. It’s easier for some people to feel frothy emotion about the imagined plight of an animal over actual human suffering. It’s also simpler to have a relationship with a pet than a person — there aren’t any real emotional requirements, and you get to feel loved unconditionally for no good reason.

“If these self-proclaimed dog lovers really cared about animals, perhaps they would strive to meet their genuine needs, rather than attempt to turn their dogs into submissive love slaves. These poor dogs are tools for people to get their narcissistic needs met, while they deserve to be respected for the animals they are. The truth is, dogs don’t belong in houses — their natural habitat is outdoors — and they certainly don’t belong at a party with young children running around.”

I’m guessing Ginsburg won’t have to worry about being invited back to a party at that dog-contaminated house again. What’s puzzling, though, is why she went to the party in the first place, given her feelings (or lack thereof) about dogs, and given she admits to knowing there’d be at least one there: “I knew that I would have to deal with Shlomo, their big, stinky dog.”

From time to time, I see a similar sort of behavior at the park: The person with an unsocialized and leashed dog, though plenty of alternate routes are available, opts to walk him right through the middle of 20 unleashed ones, then complains when their dog is approached by one of them. Some people just seem to thrive on confrontation.

While it’s true that wolves, from which dogs evolved, may not “belong in houses,” neither do apes, from which we evolved into the ruling, supremely intelligent, somewhat bossy species we have become.

Given her field of expertise, you’d think Ginsburg would at least be a little more understanding about the plight of the dog-addicted.

Meanwhile, I have only this advice for the next time she’s invited to a party where there might be a danger of her comfort being infringed upon by her gracious host’s lowly dogs:

Stay at home, mom.

“Dog Days of Summer” turns into bummer

So many of the life-size dog statues set up as part of a community art fundraising project in Lafayette, Indiana, have been stolen and damaged that organizers of the “Dog Days of Summer” exhibit are moving most of the works inside.

“I’m disheartened by the lack of respect for creativity,” said Joanne Kuhn Titolo, who had two pieces in the outdoor exhibit. “Because of the increased thefts, our artwork isn’t safe. This is horrifying.”

A total of 41 dog statues were installed in Lafayette, West Lafayette and on Purdue University’s campus. Two, as we told you last month, were stolen before the exhibit even offically started.

Altogether, seven have been stolen or significantly damaged, with most of the problems coming at Purdue or in West Lafayette near the Wabash River, according to Channel 6 News in Indianapolis.

As of Friday, organizers had moved 18 of the dogs, including “St. Joan of Bark,” to the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette until suitable indoor homes can be found for the work. Some dogs in Lafayette will remain in their original spots.

The “Dog Days” event celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Purdue Veterinary Medicine Department and the 100th anniversary of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette.

(Photo: courtesy of Dog Days of Summer)