The frigid air can cut right through even the heaviest of coats regardless of whether it's made of wool or fur. Just in the last 24 hours, Vanderburgh county Animal Control officers have responded to dozens of calls about animals being left in the cold. Eyewitness News role along with one officer who was dispatched to several animal welfare checks.
In this weather, animals can quickly suffer from hypothermia or frostbite. If there's prolonged exposure, it can be fatal. That's what Animal Control is trying to prevent.
It's high noon. But if only we could be so lucky to have a high temperature of 12 degrees.
"It's brutally cold," said Vanderburgh County Animal Control Officer Kelly Yarde as he zipped up his heavy jacket. ""Each situation, each run, is otally different. We do go by what is required by state law and city or county ordinance."
It's Yarde's sixth run of the day and it takes him to the still snow-covered roads in a neighborhood near the northern part of Evansville. He's responding to a complaint about some animals left out in the record cold.
"You can see [the dogs]. You can hear them moving around," Yarde said. "When they're barking, it's a good sign."
State law requires pet owners to provide shelter, bedding and fresh water. Those requirements are things that are incredibly crucial in these incredibly cold temperatures, Yarde said.
"When temperatures are like this, we recommend people bring their pets indoors," Yarde said. "But there's nothing that says they have to as long as they are meeting the requirements mandated by state law and city or county ordinance."
Yarde says the ideal bedding for an animal kept outdoors should be straw or woodchips. Blankets can become frozen and, thus, defeating the purpose, Yarde said. The animal's water should also be refreshed every half-hour to ensure it doesn't freeze as well.
"We don't want to take people's pets," Yarde said. "That's one of the last things we want to do. We have to ensure they're meeting the requirements."
Over the course of our short ride-along, no animal owners were cited which is encouraging, Yarde said.
"I'd rather see everybody doing the right thing and the runs be unfounded than every run turning into something bad," Yarde said. "The word is getting out to people that you've got to take care of your pet so it's a good day today."
Violating the state's animal welfare laws can result in a misdemeanor charge. Violating the city or county's ordinance regarding animal welfare can also result in a hefty fine. If you are concerned about the welfare of an animal, you can call the Animal Control office. In the event of an emergency, call 911.