Protect dogs in your neighborhood from freezing

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To the editor:

Another dog in the Philadelphia area was found frozen to death this week. The last few years several deaths in both Atlantic and Cape May County New Jersey were reported. Who knows how many more deaths there were that no one knew about? Before another tragedy like this happens, please pay attention to your neighborhood. You possibly could save the life of a dog if you do.  Pets left outside in extreme temperatures without food and shelter are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and even death, placing their owners at risk of facing criminal charges.

The act of leaving a pet outside without food or adequate shelter often receives less attention than a violent attack against an animal, but neglect is a crime. Especially in these cold months, it is important for people to bring their pets inside and for others to report neglected animals to law enforcement.

Animal neglect is one of the most common forms of animal cruelty, and is investigated more by police and animal control agencies than any other form of animal abuse. Our most constant companions —dogs and cats — feel the effects of winter weather as much as we do, only they are too often cast outside to weather the storm due to a misconception that the fur on their backs will insulate them from suffering. Without proper food and water, to boot, these domesticated animals’ chances of survival in frigid temperatures is greatly decreased. While views on animal welfare vary from region to region, laws are in place in every state to prevent needless suffering. Animal neglect is considered a misdemeanor crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Here is what you can do if you see an outside animal during extreme temperatures:

Pass by the location where the animal is if possible and see if the water is frozen. The law states all animals must have access to fresh water and in below freezing temperatures, it usually is frozen within two hours. This is animal neglect and if someone has left a pet overnight or all day in the past week’s weather, most likely the water is frozen.

Immediately call your local municipal Animal Control Service to request they inspect the situation. In most cases, you can remain anonymous but request a follow up phone call. It is a requirement that animal control respond according to most contracts within 30 to 60 minutes. Local animal control agencies should be your first phone call as they can immediately respond to the situation. If you are a pet owner and don’t know your local animal control officer phone number, you should put it in your phone book for quick access. You can call your municipal clerk to find out the phone number or go online. 

If you receive no phone call back from animal control ( a problem with some companies) , call your township municipal clerk and report the address and let them know that you received no call back from animal control. You are a taxpayer who pays for the service, and have a right to receive a response. 

 Most important, call back within two hours and follow up. Don't assume your phone call will be addressed with just one call. Persistence could possibly save the life of another pet in danger. Often, these deaths occur because neighbors don’t want to get involved or are afraid to report a neighbor. If you talk to other neighbors about the situation, it can often be a group watch effort.

Taking a few minutes and these few steps might possibly save another life. Don't turn your head away.

Linda Gentille
Animal Guardian Angels


Related: Upper Township: Move pets inside during extreme temperatures


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Protect dogs in your neighborhood from freezing


Upper Township animal control says it has responded to over 25 calls of pets left outside 



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