Cold temperatures appear to be at the heart of an increased number of complaint calls coming in to the Paws Along The River Humane Society.
"We're getting so many phone calls," Paws Executive Director Karen Kolos said on Tuesday. "I think that people panic. Just like in the summer in the heat, people notice things more, but it doesn't mean it's not warranted."
The arctic chill freezing a large swath of the country puts all animals, large and small, at risk.
Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton
This pit bull, recently re-named Faith, was removed from a garage in the City of Warren last week. She was found to have an infected eye as well as being approximately 20 pounds underweight.
"Common sense will tell you you need to keep the animals out of the wind and weather," said Kolos. "This is severe weather. Whether it's 100 degrees or below zero, people need to adjust their care appropriately."
Animal control law is fairly specific regarding what comprises appropriate shelter. For example, Kolos said that a dog house with four walls, enough room for the animal to stand and turn around as well as appropriate bedding would be in compliance with the code. She placed an emphasis on providing a space where body heat can be maintained. An unheated garage, while out of the elements, does not meet that standard.
"Large animals are in this, too," she added. "Even if you are providing the shelter they need, the shelter might not be enough."
The Society received 18 calls Monday. "A complaint is a complaint," she said. "It is just like a police call."
Kolos explained that when people call she walks them through a series of questions to determine whether the animal's basic necessities shelter, water, etc. are being met.
"(The) calls are basically a reaction to the weather," she added. "Any severe weather... people are going to react. Are they all warranted? I don't know."
She said two dogs were removed from a home in the City of Warren last Friday; one of the dogs was 20 pounds underweight.
Kolos said people can report suspected abuse by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the Society's website.
The increase in reports is stretching the Society thin.
"We can't handle all this," she said. "We don't have the people and the personnel to handle that. (We) have to decide based on the question(s) we ask how severe it is."
But, regardless, if someone sees a concerning situation, Kolos encouraged them to report.
"Definitely make the phone call," she said.