Monday, January 6, 2014

Frozen Fury. The plight of the outdoor pets and severe weather.

FaceBook post for Jarrettsville Vet for January 6, 2013

It's going to be record breaking cold tonight! If you have outside pets, please bring them in out of the cold, into a garage or provide them with shelter & some straw, hay or blankets for warmth. 
In a combined effort: Jarrettsville Vet Center, Animal Rescue, Inc, Black Dogs & Company Rescue & No Kill Harford, we will help provide assistance for your pets! If you need help with providing straw, a crate or bedding/food, please contact the clinic. 410-692-6171

Please CALL JVC front desk for assistance at 410-692-6171. Open until 8pm tonight. PLEASE SHARE THIS POST! Please talk to neighbors and friends with outside pets so we can save lives tonight! — with No Kill Harford.

Please CALL JVC front desk for assistance at 410-692-6171. Open until 8pm tonight. PLEASE SHARE THIS POST! Please talk to neighbors and friends with outside pets so we can save lives tonight! — with No Kill Harford.

The news has been dominated by the polar vortex (my new favorite term!) that has swept through the US and frozen everything from Canada to the gulf.

Repeated continual warnings about "record lows expected," "concerns about fatalities for anyone without adequate shelter, heat, and clothing," and "remember to check on neighbors and bring pets inside," have been echoed by every news, radio station, Facebook page and person we meet.

For us in Maryland the low/high (its hard to know what to call it?) is 2 degrees Fahrenheit, add the wind chill and we are talking negative digits. That is cold, and that will kill.

At the clinic we have put up repeated postings of warnings of the weather, reminding people about their outside pets and pleading with them to bring them inside. The dilemma? Well, my clients who care about their pets already have them inside everyday of the year. My clients who still think that their dog is "just a dog" probably don't follow us on Facebook, and probably don't think that our pleadings have any merit.

It was with this in mind, and after I passed the third chained out dog on my way to work, that I decided to try something other than begging on deaf ears.

Phone in hand I called my friends at Animal Rescue, Inc., Black Dogs Rescue, and No Kill Harford.

"If Jarrettsville Vet donates the funds from our Rescue Fund to buy straw, and we coordinate our extra carriers, blankets and bedding would you all spread the word and act as pick up centers?"

Without debate or hesitation they all agreed to help.

Of course, everyone agreed that we would still try to convince people to bring their pets inside, but for those that won't we could at least be able offer some relief to those pets.

And so began the social media whirlwind over four counties. It is almost 7 pm and over 2,200 people have seen the post and over 60 people have shared it. We had clients call and offer straw from their farms and others who offered to drive and deliver the needed items. The outpouring of help was truly awesome.

As I pondered on my drive back home I noticed those same three chained out dogs lay in their small dog houses, noses barely visible, on a fresh bed of straw. I know these dogs. I look for them every time I pass. They have been to the clinic to see me for the accidents and illnesses that waiting has not cured. Every time I meet them they are exuberant to be off chain, finally able to meet a new person, kiss a new face, and over reactive to each tiny nuance of freedom. And every time their owners remind me that "they are outside dogs. They only receive (the state required) rabies." There is no changing their minds, there is no elevating their dogs status.

I called the clinic and asked the receptionist to "call their home, and offer free boarding overnight."

"But, they are overdue on all of their vaccines?" the  receptionist replied.

"I know, but what choice do we have? And what will we do tomorrow if they are brought in for frostbite? or freezing to death?"

She called and left a message.

At the end of the day no one took us up our offers.

We will try again at the next cold snap.

All I can do is try, and when that isn't enough we have to hope.

Maybe there will be a day when chaining isn't permitted?

Magpie prepping for bad weather.

The puppies demonstrating cuddling to conserve body heat.

Savannah nose to radiator and warm under her blanket.

I will go to bed with a little prayer in my head for all of those that are not as fortunate as our kids. My you all be safe, warm, and with the ones you love.

If you have any pet related questions you can find me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, or at our free pet question site or on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

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