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Know the law: cold weather pet care

Do's & don'ts in the freezing cold

SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - With colder changes on the way this weekend, it's a reminder the winter season isn't too far away. Advocates for animal safety want to remind you about a relatively new law aimed at protecting outdoor pets in harsh weather. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains.

Some playful pets up for adoption at Griffin Pond Animal Shelter sure looked comfortable Thursday in a climate-controlled environment. But when outdoor temperatures turn extreme, it's more than their comfort level threatened. "A lot of people didn't know about the half-hour rule below 32 degrees," said Lackawanna County Humane Officer Lisa Devlin.

What Ofc. Devlin discussed was Libre's Law passed in 2017. The anti-cruelty legislation states animals can't be tied outdoors any more than 30 minutes in freezing temperatures. It also requires during that time they have access to safe shelter like a dog house or pet igloo.

Discussing what's considered a safe pet shelter in freezing weather, Lackawanna County Humane Officer Laura Vitali said, "The requirements are that it's a smaller entrance, one that your dog can actually fit through so that once inside they can retain that heat with like a flap on the front so that the weather, the elements can't get inside."

She also recommends straw bedding rather than hay which can get moldy or blankets which can get wet and even contribute to hypothermia. Outdoor pets should also have access to fresh water.

And when temperatures are much colder than 32 degrees, pets are especially vulnerable to frostbite. Things like the tips of their ears, their nose and even the pads on their paws could freeze and die and not grow back. While Officers Devlin and Vitali say they'd rather educate and give out warnings, all bets are off if the pet's life appears at stake. "Imminent danger, humane officers have the right to walk in on the property and remove the animal immediately and get vet care," said Ofc. Devlin.

So whether you have pets or are considering adopting one, know the law for their sake and yours. "We're here for a resource and to help our pets in our community live a lot better and have our residents be better educated on pet care," said Ofc. Devlin.

Griffin Pond Animal Shelter also offers pet bedding and pet shelters like plastic igloos for pet owners who need a little extra help. You can check out their website or call 570-586-3700.


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