A family of chihuahuas snuggling under warm blankets would make most hearts melt.
But life wasn’t always cozy for these pups.
The dogs were freezing in a barn with little protection from the cold until they were recently rescued.
“Most people don’t realize this, but it can be a lot colder in a barn than it is in a field,” Pets Come First shelter manager Deb Warner said. “People need to educate themselves and give their pets the right protection from the cold.”
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The mother of the dogs was just days away from certain death, according to Warner. She was suffering from pyometra, a life-threatening infection in the uterus.
She was saved and all four were fixed. Each dog was vaccinated, micro-chipped and checked for other diseases and are recovering in the shelter together.
It’s a nice story, but the shelter gets calls like this all the time, Warner said. A dog they get regular calls about, Warner said, lives in Unionville, and the owner has it tied to a shed without food, water or bedding.
The issue is that there isn’t an animal cruelty officer in Centre County, and dog law only allows state police to go so far — intervening for rabies, licenses and strays. An animal cruelty officer is needed for potential cases of animal cruelty.
Warner said pets should be kept inside and that owners need to use common sense if they will be outside for an extended period.
“It depends on the breed and size,” she said. “Little dogs should not be outside very long. Bigger dogs and bigger mixes do enjoy being outside, but use common sense. There’s not a set time limit, but if they are outside for a while they do need to have bedding, water that isn’t frozen and they need to be on a healthy diet.”
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency offered tips on keeping pets safe from the cold, including not leaving older, arthritic pets outside under any circumstances, watching for signs of frostbite and injury, keeping them on a leash and not leaving them in a parked vehicle.
Spirit of giving
Pets are being adopted quickly during the holiday season.
While some are giving dogs and cats a new home, others are donating things like toys and treats to shelters. Warner said Pets Come First is in need of more basic items, such as paper towels, bleach, laundry detergent, cat litter and light bulbs.
People may also bring their pets to the shelter off General Potter Highway in Centre Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday for pictures with Santa. If you don’t have a pet, the shelter will provide one for a picture.
All someone needs to bring, Warner said, is a bag of Purina One dry dog food, Purina Kitten Chow or a monetary donation of their choosing.