CINCINNATI (WXIX) – Local animal shelters express concern for the safety of their animals and staff as an icy winter storm sweeps through the Tri-State during the holiday weekend.
One major concern most shelters have is the dangerously cold weather and how that could impact the animals living in kennels.
“[The building] is very old and while Hamilton County has been a great partner and has made numerous upgrades, this is still a facility that was built in the 1960s to be a dog pound,” Cincinnati Animal CARE spokesperson Ray Anderson said. “The facility was outdated decades ago and it’s very challenging to keep it to a comfortable level of warmth when temperatures are this extreme.”
While there is no generator available due to the conditions of the building, Anderson says there is a backup heating unit that will turn on only in the most extreme emergencies.
The dog kennels at the shelter, located on Colerain Avenue, are partially open to the outdoors and surrounded by a chain-linked fence.
Cincinnati Animal CARE plans to block off the outdoor space, however, that leaves the dogs with significantly less space for extreme weather that could last multiple days.
In addition, Anderson says walk times for the dogs will also be cut down.
“We’re monitoring the situation for our walk team as we have to keep human safety in mind as well,” Anderson said. “While a dog may be able to get out for 5-10 minutes in this extreme cold, a volunteer will not be able to stay outside for three hours walking multiple dogs.”
There are currently 155 dogs and 62 cats in the facility, and with the storm rolling in, the shelter expects to take in more strays.
“In nice weather, if Hamilton County Dog Wardens receive a call about a dog being left outside too long, they may go out, leave a notice on the door saying that they need to bring their dog in or provide adequate food, water, shelter within 24 hours then follow-up the next day,” Anderson explained. “[But] in this kind of weather, any dog being left outside without adequate shelter will be impounded immediately.”
Keeping the population down is key for the Cincinnati shelter to provide safe living conditions for hundreds of animals.
Cincinnati Animal CARE recently marketed their “Silent Night at the Shelter” to push volunteers to foster an animal over the holidays and to keep the facility empty.
In addition, the organization reduced adoption fees to $25 from Wednesday until Saturday.
As for the dogs and cats that will be staying in the shelter over the holidays, the CARE team has ramped up their cleaning procedures and wrapped kennels in blankets to keep the animals warm.
“We’re expecting an increase in intake, so please consider fostering or adopting very soon,” Anderson said. “The fewer animals in the facility, the less we have to rely on backup and emergency backup kennels.”
Hamilton County Dog Wardens and the Cincinnati Animal CARE staff are considered essential workers and will be working during the storm as needed.
Anderson urges pet owners to keep their pets inside and to call the shelter at 513-541-7387 if a stray is found.
“We will encourage many folks to temporarily hang onto the animal if possible and if it’s safe to do so,” Anderson explained. “A safe, warm home is always preferable to the shelter, but it’s especially true during extreme weather like this.”
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