Keep outdoor pets safe this winter with tips from Kent County Animal Shelter

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the weather continues to grow colder, the Kent County Animal Shelter wants to make sure all pet owners know how to keep their furry friends safe if they have to stay outside.

“The best place for our pets is in our home next to us, but we know that is not always possible. We encourage all pet owners to take appropriate steps to protect those animals that may be left outside for long stretches of time,” Angela Hollinshead, Kent County Animal Shelter division director, said. “Many pets are not equipped to handle the effects of cold temperatures, so we want to remind pet owners of their responsibilities to care for them during the winter.”

While state law allows dogs to be left outside in the cold, it requires that all dogs that spend time outside have access to:

  • Adequate shelter: Examples include inside the owners’ home, a shelter with three sides and a roof, structure such as a barn or garage, etc.
  • Dry bedding: An example is straw. The shelter recommends that owners avoid using blankets or cloth bedding because they will likely get wet and freeze.
  • Water: The shelter encourages owners to check every few hours to make sure the water isn’t frozen.

Even though state law doesn’t address free-roaming or community cats, the shelter encourages residents to be mindful of their needs. Information on creating a cat shelter can be found on the KCAS website.

“Michigan winters are certainly beautiful but can be dangerous for some animals if they do not have appropriate resources. We encourage pet owners to watch our educational video and learn about these dangers, so your pets are safe and happy this winter,” Hollinshead said in a statement. “If you cannot keep your pet indoors and need resources, we urge residents to reach out to the KCAS to so see how we can help.”

Anyone who suspects animal neglect throughout the winter is encouraged to call the shelter at 616.632.7300.

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