With the state bracing for additional freezing rain and cold weather that is expected to last several days, the Humane Society of Louisiana is urging pet and farm animal owners to provide all animals with adequate shelter. The Humane Society continues to field calls from the public who wish to report animals tied up in the freezing rain. “We are deeply concerned by the high number of calls we continue to receive on this issue. Providing a large, insulated dog house, bedding, or bringing your pets inside should be the proper course of action for any pet owner,” says Jeff Dorson, HSLA Director. “But, we continue to receive reports of dogs and other animals tied up in the freezing cold,” adds Dorson. “At the very least, pet owners should make space in their utility room for their dogs, cats, or puppies and provide a reliable heat source,” adds Dorson.
The state law requires that pet owners provide proper food, water, vet care, and shelter. However, since more than half of Louisiana’s 64 parishes lack animal control agencies that would normally respond to these reports, many complaints are overlooked and never investigated. Owners found in violation could be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines, penalties, and even imprisonment up to six months in jail. Most first time offenders, however, are rarely sentenced to serve any time; most pay a modest fine, court costs, and are placed on unsupervised probation. Still, the laws and their penalties should act as a sufficient deterrent, says the Humane Society.
“It’s important that pet and farm animal owners develop a sense of empathy so that they realize that the animals in their care can suffer from exposure to the elements just as we do. The best way we can develop empathy is to ask the pet owner to trade places with the dog he or she has tied up to a tree without any protection,” adds Dorson.
The Humane Society also asks large animal owners to provide shelter for their large animals in order to keep them warm and healthy. The Humane Society recommends providing large animals with access to lean-tos, stalls, sheds, or barns.
According to the Humane Society, animals can suffer from frost-bite, hyperthermia, and other cold-related ailments. The best way to prevent these problems is to provide sufficient warmth, protection, and shelter.
Those seeing violations are urged to call the local authorities.
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