Pets need special care in both warm and cold weather. With colder temperatures in the
forecast, pet owners are advised to take special care of their animals. Karen Russell, president of the Henry County Humane Society – Geneseo Shelter, has the best advice, and said, “If your pets are outside, go sit with them awhile and then decide if they should come inside with you.” she said, and added the shelter has this message on its face book page.

Harsh weather conditions can lead to life threatening situations, Russell said. A state law will allow law enforcement officers to take temporary custody of a cat or dog they believe to be in a life-threatening situation due to “extreme heat or cold conditions.”  Russell said information from the Illinois Policy Institute states: “Senate Bill 2270, now Public Act 100-0740, amends Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act by expanding law enforcement’s ability to proactively address cruel treatment of pets. The act defines  extreme heat or cold conditions as those that may result in injury or death, or other serious conditions like hypothermia, frostbite and hyperthermia.” – The law became effective Jan. 1 of last year.

If a pet is kept outside in cold temperatures, they definitely need lots of bedding in their dog house, preferably with straw over blankets because blankets retain moisture. It is also necessary to have a wind break such as bales of hay around the dog house, and obviously the pet needs extra food because it takes more energy for the animal to keep warm in cold temperatures. Heated bowls are recommended to keep water from freezing and cause dehydration to the animal.

Russell first recommended that pets not be left outside in extreme cold or heat, and said, “I don’t think it is ever a necessity to leave a cat or dog out in the cold. If a pet owner can’t keep their pet warm when it is extremely cold, they should not have a pet. The message we have on face book pretty much says it all.” If someone in Geneseo is aware of a pet being neglected, Russell said they should contact the Geneseo Police Department at 944-5141, and officers will then contact the animal control officer. “If it is about an animal in Henry County, they can contact the Henry County Animal Control Officer at 309-937-2266, and if the incident is ‘after hours,’ they can call the Henry County Sheriff’s office,” Russell said. “When people call us about an animal left outside in cold weather, we refer them to the Geneseo Police or the Henry County Animal Control Officer.”
Russell also shared about classes being offered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture where residents can become a humane investigator. Age also is a factor of the animal’s well being and the breed, size of animal and coat length are all contributing factors to the amount of heat and cold the animals can withstand. In cold or hot weather, make certain you know where your pets are – in your home or if outside, make sure they are supervised,” Russell said.