ROFF, Pets Come First offer tips for keeping pets safe in cold months

LEWISTOWN – With winter upon the Lewistown area, pet owners are deciding on whether or not to keep their pets outside, and if they do, for how long.

Cindy McClellan, cofounder of Rescue Our Furry Friends, a nonprofit organization that focuses on rescuing and housing animals, said pets belong indoors during the winter.

“I don’t recommend keeping your animals outside ever,” she said.

But McClellan said if someone needs to keep a pet outside, proper shelter and food must be available.

“They have to make sure they have fresh water, not frozen water, fresh food twice a day and a shelter with straw or blankets,” she said.

According to the Humane Society of the United States’ website, there are 83.3 million dogs owned in the United States, and 95.6 million cats owned. Deb Warner, founder of Pets Come First, an animal shelter near State College, said those owners need to be familiar with the type of pet they have, then decide whether it would be ok outside and for how long.

“If people are going to get a pet, they should educate themselves. There are some breeds of dogs that really like to be outside and enjoy being outside,” she said.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website recommends that pets kept outdoors for some time should immediately be dried when they come inside. The ASPCA also recomends pets should not be left in cars for any length of time and owners should make sure pets have a warm place to sleep.

“No one likes to see dogs outside. Dogs are pack animals and belong with their people,” Warner said.

More tips on animal safety during the winter months can be found by visiting the ASPCA website,