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Animal Control Officers Visit Pets In Danger During Bitter Cold

DENVER (CBS4) - Animal control officers in Denver checked on the welfare of animals left outside during frigid temperatures on Wednesday.

As the temperature continues to drop, officers anticipated more calls from concerned neighbors.

Since Monday when the cold snap descended upon Denver, animal control officers have visited more than 40 home to check reports of dogs in trouble.

"This is bare, there's no dog house in here," said Daniel Ettinger, an animal control officer, while checking on a dog whose his water bowl had frozen over.

Cold Pets 2
A dog out in the cold on Wednesday (credit: CBS)
Cold Pets 1
(credit: CBS)
(credit: Tonee Lawrence)

Dogs' coats may keep them warm for a while, but they has very little protection from wind or snow.

Animal control officers say, depending on the breed, dogs can develop hypothermia and frostbite in just a few hours.

"Around the nose, the snout and the pads of the feet are very susceptible," Ettinger said.

Kasey Carter, a veterinarian with the Denver Dumb Friends League, said that boots and clothing for dogs might be necessary if they're going to be spend a prolonged time outdoors in cold weather.

"I think if you're going on prolonged walks, it might be a good idea to have boots and things like that," Carter said.

Small dogs tend to get colder faster, he said.

"They have a smaller surface area so they're going to get chilled to the bone a little bit easier," Carter said. "But that said, large dogs can get cold also."

Brittany Coffman, who was walking her small dog on Wednesday, said she just moved from Florida, so her dog, Aspen, might not be used to the frigid temperatures. Aspen was wearing a sweater and a jacket.

Coffman bought booties, too.

"She's not liking (the cold), I know," she said. "We need to put her little boots on. We wanted to make sure her feet were taken care of as well."

Since Monday, animal control officers in Denver have visited dozens of homes but say no dogs have died while being exposed to the elements. One pet owner was cited for animal cruelty.

"The maximum penalty for each violation is $999 and/or up to one year in jail," said Ettinger.

Animal control officers will revisit those pets whose owners are not home.

"There's a frozen bowl of water in there and no dog house," Ettinger said at another home. "So this is something that we will come back and follow up on."

Anyone who sees a dog they think is in distress is asked to call 311 in Denver or their local sheriff's office if outside the Denver metro area.

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