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'I do not recommend that pets be housed outside at all'

Zoe Greszler • Jan 6, 2018 at 4:00 PM

With temperatures dipping below zero at night and fierce wind chills making outside conditions feel like it’s in the minus 20s at times, people are bundling up and staying inside. But what about the animals?

The Humane Society recommends never keeping a household pet, such as a dog or cat, outside when temperatures go below the freezing point (32F).

Ronald Hendrikson, veterinarian for Norwalk Veterinary Medical Center,  recently provided tips to the Discover Norwalk Magazine, which was released Thursday, and told the Reflector they still stand as the best tips offered by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Henderikson said as a doctor, he doesn’t recommend pets be housed outside under any conditions, any time of the year, but especially in the cold.

“I do not recommend that pets be housed outside at all. They are family companions that need interaction and warmth, both physical and mental,” he said.

“In terms of going out to the bathroom, in my household anytime the dogs go out they are in a fenced-in area and if it is windy and below freezing I stand by the door and watch them until they come back in (less than five minutes). I never leave them unattended in case I were to get distracted by a phone call, etc. and forget they are out. The wind can be as or more dangerous than the cold. If it is not windy and not below 25 degrees they can stay out a little longer.”

State law describes terms of animal cruelty and says that no owner should allow or cause any conditions that could be defined as cruel.

Ohio Code: 959.131 prohibitions concerning companion animals states that animal owners cannot “deprive the companion animal of necessary sustenance or confine the companion animal without supplying it during the confinement with sufficient quantities of good, wholesome food and water if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the deprivation or confinement.”

If the pet is kept outside, the elements have to be taken into account, according to the law. 

It states owners cannot “impound or confine the companion animal without affording it, during the impoundment or confinement, with access to shelter from heat, cold, wind, rain, snow or excessive direct sunlight if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the lack of adequate shelter.”

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