In an effort to help residents protect outdoor pets during the cold winter months, Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control is offering free straw and community cat shelters to citizens.
Straw is the best and safest way to provide warmth for pets who spend a lot of time outside. Blankets hold moisture and quickly freeze during the winter months, which can be detrimental for pets trying to stay warm.
Fort Wayne City ordinance requires animals be brought into a temperature controlled structure when temperatures dip below 10 degrees and/or when a wind chill warning has been issued by a local, state or national authority. A garage or shed without heat are not adequate housing.
Now is also a good time to get a plan in place to protect community cats. Community cats are free-roaming cats who have been spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. They are easily identified by a docked ear. The shelter has a limited supply of community cat houses available for providers free of charge.
The shelter offers these additional winter pet care tips –
- An animal that spends time outside must have access to a proper shelter specifically designed for an animal. The shelter must be free of leaks to wind, snow, and rain. Face the opening of the shelter to the east or south away from prevailing winds or fasten a heavy door flap to the top of the doorframe. When temperatures dip below 10 degrees and/or a wind chill warning is issued the animal must be brought into a temperature controlled structure.
- Monitor temperatures and bring the animal inside to a temperature controlled structure when temperatures dip below 10 degrees and/or a wind chill warning is issued.
- Use straw or cedar chips for bedding. Towels, blankets and hay are insufficient because cloth draws moisture and hay will mold.
- Insulate the animal's house and raise it several inches above the ground with concrete blocks to prevent snow from drifting inside. Frame the elevated area with boards or sand bags to prevent winds from gusting under the animal's house.
- Animals need extra food to help generate enough body heat to stay warm and must have unfrozen water to drink at all times. A heated water bucket is a great investment.
- All dogs and cats living within the city must wear the required city pet registration tag on a properly fitted leather or nylon collar.
- Keep all cats inside. Those who spend time outside can experience frostbite, or become lost or injured.
- Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach following cold weather walks. Dogs can easily ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking their paws. Check paws for cuts caused by snow or encrusted ice.
The shelter also wants to remind residents that if you see something, say something. Never hesitate to call the shelter regardless of the day or time to report an animal in need of help within the city. Call 260-427-1244 during normal business hours or 260-449-3000 after hours and on weekends. Your call could mean the difference between life and death for an animal in need.