Our View | Leaving your pet out in the cold is a crime

Twice this week, state police issued citations to area residents for cruelty to animals because of dogs left outside in the record bitter cold that enveloped the region.

The stories are shocking and sad, the actions of the dog owners impossible to comprehend.

On Monday, police cited Travis J. Conaway, of Milesburg, for leaving his dogs outside during frigid conditions.

Conaway had four dogs but only two kennels for them to try to gain shelter. The water in their bowls was frozen, police said.

Police instructed Conaway to move the dogs indoors when citing him.

By the time police got to the residence of Ronald Eugene Haines, in Curtin Township, it was too late. Haines’ dog “was found behind his residence in a dog house dead and frozen to the floor,” police reported.

Haines was cited Wednesday for animal cruelty.

State police at Rockview handled both cases. We applaud the troopers for taking these instances of animal cruelty seriously.

In the days before our record cold stretch this week, Robyn Graboski, a coordinator with the Centre County Animal Response Team, urged residents to think about their outside pets and take action to protect them from the cold.

“In extreme temperatures, especially for dogs that are outside, they should be brought inside where they have shelter,” she told reporter Matt Morgan.

She suggested that outside dogs have insulated or raised houses; mats, straw or blankets to sleep on; and temperature-controlled water bowls anytime temperatures dip below 40 degrees.

The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team offers additional tips for protecting pets, especially in winter, including:

•  A dog house should be large enough for the animal to sit, stand and move around, but small enough that body heat can be retained. And in winter, a dog house should have a flap over the entrance to keep in warmth.

•  Plastic bowls are safer than metal bowls when temperatures drop. Pet owners should check the water often to make sure it isn’t frozen.

•  Older or arthritic pets should stay indoors.

•  Ears, paws and tails are the most susceptible to frostbite. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, lethargy, low heart rate and unresponsiveness.

•  Check labels on ice-melt materials to make sure they’re pet safe.

•  Just as on hot days, don’t leave a dog in a parked automobile.

We’re troubled by the disregard shown to the animals in the Milesburg and Curtin incidents, and we urge readers to learn from those situations and protect their pets from the cold.

As these cases show, not doing so is more than a heartless or careless act. It’s a crime.