The sub-zero temperatures prompt advice from the Hancock County Animal Shelter Foundation, which encourages people to take important steps to keep their pets and other animals alive, warm and safe.
"Taking a few simple steps for your pet during this time could literally mean the difference between life or death for that animal," said Shelter Media Director Marjie DeFede.
The foundation offers the following advice:
-- Keep dogs and cats inside. "It may not be easy, but please try. A garage or basement, even unheated, can suffice for temporary shelter until the thermometer rises. Companion animals have a slim chance of survival in sub-zero conditions," she said.
-- If all indoor options fail, make an outdoor shelter for cats, using storage containers and straw. "Dog houses also should be lined with plenty of straw, not blankets. Keep checking food bowls to keep from freezing. And consider moving any shelter onto a porch or position up against your house," DeFede said. "Also, please call our shelter at (304) 387-4102 if you are looking for straw. We have a limited supply on hand to help pet owners."
-- If you must walk your dog, don't let the dog off its leash. "In snow or ice, a dog can lose its scent and get lost. More dogs are lost in the winter than any other time of year. Also, wipe your dog's paws and stomach thoroughly after coming in from a walk to remove any frozen debris or salt," she said.
-- Clean up spilled antifreeze, windshield de-icer or any other winter driving products. All are lethal to dogs and cats, she said.
-- "Don't shave your dog or cat. Their longer coat provides extra warmth," DeFede said.
-- Increase your dog or cat's food intake. "Extra calories help them to stay warm, too. If you are having trouble with food expenses for your pet, please also contact the shelter for assistance resources," she said.
-- Just like in the summer, don't leave a dog or cat alone in a car during the winter. "Your vehicle can quickly turn into a refrigerator and cause the animal to freeze to death," she said.
The Hancock County Animal Shelter Foundation is a 501c3 organization that operates the Hancock County Animal Shelter in New Manchester through a contract with the Hancock County Commission.