Pets Getting Dumped in Frigid Cold Weather
by Joyce F.
It’s no big surprise that winter weather in Fairbanks Alaska can be brutal. The temperature there today is a frigid -49 F. You read that right, it’s minus 49 degrees in Fairbanks.
With temperatures that dangerously low, people need to use extra caution when letting their pets go outside. Yet some individuals have actually abandoned their pets at dump sites during Fairbank’s brutal winters. In 2011, 28 animals were left at waste transfer sites. Three of the animals died by the time they were found.
From dogs and cats to goats and ferrets, animals have been left behind at waste transfer sites; tied to dumpsters or locked in cages with no protection from the elements. Left to fend for themselves. Left to freeze to death.
Frostbite literally means the destruction of skin and tissue by freezing. As with humans, animals also suffer from frostbite. Ice crystals form in their body tissue, killing it. Their ears, tail and paws may become discolored, blistered and painful. The dead skin peels off. Their internal organs may start to freeze. If that starts to happen, they will most likely need to be humanely euthanized once they are found. Cats are especially affected by the cold.
Animals left out in the bitter cold can also be affected by hypothermia. Hypothermia is an abnormal lowering of body temperature. It can cause unconsciousness, shock and death. Signs of hypothermia include shivering and weakness.
This is what the animals left at waste transfer sites in Fairbanks, AK had to endure. For some, it was probably the last thing they remembered.
The Fairbanks animal shelter located at 2408 Davis Road offers heated drop-off cages, which are available 24 hours a day for surrendered pets. Since they will be safe and warm there, there is no excuse for leaving an animal to die in the brutal cold. Since this is a form of animal cruelty, people that abandon their animals can be arrested and charged.
In Alaska, animal cruelty is a class A misdemeanor. Sentencing includes a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment of up to 1 year, community service and restitution. (Alaska Statute 11.61.140)
For those of us who don’t live in such an extreme climate, animals still need to be protected from the cold. Exposure to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit can still cause frostbite in pets.
Photo courtesy of Eric Engman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner | AP