Vets, police outline the dangers of animal neglect in the cold

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The extreme temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly for our pets.

That’s why local law enforcement agencies are making sure the public knows it can be a crime in Minnesota to leave pets in the cold without the proper food, water and shelter.

At Blue Pearl Pet Hospital, they see all kinds of things year-round, but in the winter, they can see extreme cases of frostbite and hypothermia. They’re not the only ones watching out for pets in the cold, though. Law enforcement is keeping a watchful eye, too.

We know the cold isn’t good for human health and it’s not good for our pets, either.

“They handle it just like we do,” said Dr. Alexia Berg, a veterinarian. “Initially, they can get skin issues, frostbite from low temps. They can get hypothermia just like we can.

Vets know how quickly can go bad for dogs and cats left in the bitter cold.

“We’ll see frostbite injuries through emergency service,” Berg said. “Also, dogs who run out of the house and stay out for too long and can get injuries to their skin, redness injuries.”

The hospital is open 24/7 and is a place police can drop off animals in need of medical attention.

“A lot of the first responders bring the pets to us and to our ER services at all hours of the day of the week or year, 365, for emergencies and for care of pets,” Berg added.

They’re a resource Brooklyn Park Police have had to use in the past and while they haven’t had to drop off any pets so far during this cold snap, they’ve been busy responding to calls.

“We’ve seen an increase of calls for welfare checks, specifically dogs left outside and that’s pretty normal when we see those severe temps,” said Deputy Chief Mark Bruley, of the Brooklyn Park Police Department.

There are state laws on the books in Minnesota when it comes to what kind of conditions you can leave your pets in. Including providing proper food, shelter and water.

“If you read the Minnesota law, it really goes into requiring adequate shelter and again, that’s subjective, but it describes some specific things like if it’s in a shelter, the animal has to be able to stand up, turn around and lay down. It has to protect them from the elements and provide fresh water to the animal,” Bruley said.

Brooklyn Park Police have not issued any citations so far during this cold snap, but they want to make sure the public is informed about the rules.

“There’s some that make poor choices and some are just uneducated, so we’re there to make sure they know this is really dangerous for animals and you have to do better at taking care of them and if you’re malicious or intentional, we’ll hold you accountable and give you a citation or take the dog from you,” Bruley added.

Both vets and law enforcement officers urge people to call police if they have concerns about pets being left in the cold. They would rather go check and have nothing wrong than have an animal in trouble.