The temperatures have been extremely cold in some states over the past few weeks, leaving some people to make gruesome discoveries of pets that have been left outside and passed away.
The most obvious solution to this problem is to bring pets inside. That works for many dogs and cats, but there are other, larger critters that have to stay outside.
There are still feral and lost animals out there, too, who have no one in particular to care for them. Some people have started to make inexpensive cat houses for these wayward strays in a bid to keep them safe during the cold nights.
There are also pet owners who will not or can not bring their critters indoors, for whatever reason, so some shelters are offering bales of straw to these people so at least their pets have a way to stay warm.
When you think of cozy and warm, you tend to think of blankets — but blankets are not always the best option for outdoor animals. Many blankets, once wet, will not dry out in a shelter and won’t hold any heat.
Straw, on the other hand, can be burrowed in and traps heat rather well. There’s also usually a good amount of it available after harvest festivals and Halloween. As a side note, straw and hay are not the same thing, and hay should not be used as it’s not as light or heat-retaining.
Many concerned pet owners are worried that offering straw to less-conscientious pet owners will only encourage them to leave their animals out in the elements, but the shelters have made their stance clear.
“Clarification: We do NOT support leaving pets outside,” the PAWS Atlanta shelter wrote in a comment. “We do NOT adopt pets to people who say they will leave them outside.
“However, we also understand the reality of the situation and of our low-income community. It’s going to happen. And, when it does, we at least want these dogs to have some protection from the elements.”
“We try to educate as many people as we can, but sometimes it takes baby steps. Hence, the free straw.”
The Pittsylvania Pet Center in Chatham, Virginia, has joined the movement and is advertising free straw being handed out at their Pet Center.
As the temperature continues to drop,” the post began, “please think about your outside pets! If you are unable to bring them inside, we have straw to hand out to anyone with outside pets.
“Please stop by the Pet Center during our business hours, Tuesday-Friday 12-6; and Saturday-Sunday 12-5. If you have any questions, please contact the Pet Center at (434) 432-1989.”
If you or someone you know could use some straw, check out your local shelters to see if they’re participating in this outreach.
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