By Andrew Beam
While many people may seek shelter from the cold after their power goes out, what does a family do if they have a pet living with them?
Luckily, there are options in the Capital District for where pets can go when a family must seek shelter elsewhere so they don’t need to freeze out in the cold.
There are some instances where families will experienced a burst pipe in their home, their power could go out or their home could even be damaged by fire. Some of those families may need some temporary shelter, which Curtis Hovey, executive director of the Cohoes Community Center, said they do provide.
“We give them the opportunity to find longer term housing for a couple of hours so they can figure out where to go and sleep,” Hovey said. “If it’s something longer term, there are emergency supplies such as cots or blankets if they have no way of finding shelter.”
Hovey said families will be able to keep their pet with them as he said the pet is as much of a family member as anyone else.
“Pets are basically part of the family,” Hovey said. “There’s no reason to keep out a pet as long as [the family] keeps a watchful eye.”
Many of the calls Brad Shear, executive director of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, gets pertain to dogs being left out in the cold, abandoned by their owners.
But Shear said the humane society has partnered with Albany County in handling disaster responses. He said whenever a storm is on the way or there is flooding they usually receive a call from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.
“If people need to house pets, we will respond to that request,” Shear said, though he said they have yet to receive such calls.
Shear said if shelters do allow pets, the Albany County Sheriff’s department does have animal supplies, such as bowls and crates, they can provide.
Rensselaer County spokesman Chris Meyer said they have a partnership with Albany and Schenectady counties as part of the CART team, a initiative meant to provide shelter for animals in disaster situations.
It provides the distribution of crates and bowls to shelters when a family does have a pet with them.
The only issue is, the county legislature has yet to pass a resolution setting up the program; Albany County has already done so.
“It’s incumbent upon us to pass a resolution,” Meyer said. “We will work to establish that in the first quarter of this year and get the ball rolling.”
In the City of Troy, Animal Control Officer Kevin McDonough said when he does get a call to find shelter for an animal, they check with local veterinary clinics and even kennels in the area. He also said they will check with the Menands Animal Shelter run by the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society and added the Troy Veterinary Hospital has been known to accommodate pets.
“Get ahold of you local animal control officer and I’m sure something can be done by them or the police department,” McDonough said.
On Sunday, citing the puppy mill in the town of Sprakers in Montgomery County, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville) and Senator Greg Ball (R,C,I-Patterson) called for new legislation to protect companion animals from being left outside in the freezing cold all day and night.
The new legislation, which is being drafted, will make it a felony for intentionally failing to provide adequate shelter for a dog. The owner farm in Sprakers was only charged with a violation of the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law, which caries a maximum fine of $100, according to a press release.
“Leaving a dog outside in the extreme cold to live in a barrel is no way to treat man’s best friend. The punishment for leaving a dog out in the freezing cold to potentially die should be beyond a mere slap on the wrist, pay your fine and go back to your puppy mill to extract more blood money. It should be criminal. The legislation Senator Ball and I are putting forth seeks to modernize this anachronism in our state’s animal cruelty laws and ensure we can better protect those who have no voice – our companion animals – from abuse and neglect,” said Tedisco.
Both Shear and McDonough stressed the importance of providing proper shelter for pets, specifically dogs, during these frigid temperatures. McDonough said a dog must be provided insulated dog house while Shear said if you are letting a dog outside to use the bathroom, the best plan is to go out with them.
“A pet probably can’t handle the cold any longer than you can,” Shear said. “They will probably be ready to come in when you are.”
McDonough said it is important a dog not be left out any more than 15 minutes in the cold and added the dog should be monitored.
“Just be aware,” McDonough said. “Work with mother nature, don’t work against it.” (ARTICLE)