Dallas Animal Services urges people to foster, adopt pets as winter storm creates capacity issues

As Dallas residents continue to shelter from frigid temperatures, its furry residents also need to be kept warm. Noting that its facilities are becoming crowded, Dallas Animal Services on Friday encouraged pet owners to bring their animals indoors — and urged people to consider fostering or adopting from the shelter. […]

As Dallas residents continue to shelter from frigid temperatures, its furry residents also need to be kept warm.

Noting that its facilities are becoming crowded, Dallas Animal Services on Friday encouraged pet owners to bring their animals indoors — and urged people to consider fostering or adopting from the shelter.

“The ice and snow couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Dallas Animal Services director MeLissa Webber said in a news release. “It really has created the perfect storm.”

As of Friday morning, only 3% of the Dallas Animal Services kennels were available for incoming large dogs. Some 360 dogs and 21 cats were in the shelter’s care, agency spokeswoman Leah Backo said.

Stormy Carrillo moves a dog at Dallas Animal Services on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. The shelter is bumping up against its population limits because of the winter storm.
Stormy Carrillo moves a dog at Dallas Animal Services on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. The shelter is bumping up against its population limits because of the winter storm.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

“The city essentially shutting down due to the snow really impacted us getting pets out, and we still had to be bringing pets in,” Backo said.

Warned Webber: “Without additional support from our community, we’re going to be faced with some very difficult euthanasia decisions, which we all desperately want to avoid.”

The National Weather Service said wind chills of minus 5 to 5 degrees are possible through Saturday.

“Breed does not matter” when temperatures are this cold, she said.

“Obviously, housebroken pets need to go outside,” she said. But it’s unsafe for pets to be out for long periods of time without adequate shelter and water.

Laura Baines with her son Gus Baines slide together over the snow at Flag Pole Hill Park in Dallas on Friday, February 4, 2022. North Texas received 1.7-2.5 inches of sleet and snow accumulation on Thursday.

The shelter also had to change how adoptions were done when the pandemic hit in 2020 and its office had to close to the public.

Webber said these animals are “depending on the compassion of our community” and people should consider fostering or adopting a pet because taking them home could save their lives.

According to Dallas city code, owners must provide pets access “at all times” to drinkable water and shelter that protects them from direct sunlight, standing water and extreme weather, including temperatures below 32 degrees.

Dallas Pets Alive! works with the shelter to keep numbers down with the goal of eliminating euthanasia in North Texas. The organization cares for and helps foster medically and behaviorally needy animals that require more attention.

Tadarius Daniels (left) feeds Portia outside of her room while Stormy Carrillo watches with more dog food.
Tadarius Daniels (left) feeds Portia outside of her room while Stormy Carrillo watches with more dog food.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

Leslie Sans, the organization’s executive director, said people should call 311 to report people whose pets are being kept outdoors in the cold. She also encouraged people to adopt and foster animals housed at shelters “to get them the care and the love that they need.”

Unprotected animals can also be reported through the OurDallas mobile app.

Curbside or in-person adoptions are available at two Dallas Animal Services locations: the main shelter at 1818 N. Westmoreland Road in West Dallas, and the PetSmart Everyday Adoption Center at 16821 North Coit Road in Far North Dallas.

Find more information at BeDallas90.org.

“As the temperature continues to drop, prevention is key,” Webber said. “Bring your pets inside or make sure they have warm shelter from the wind and weather so that they stay safe and don’t end up at DAS.”

How can I keep pets safe?

Pets can become disoriented and get lost, stolen or injured if they’re too cold, according to the ASPCA. They can also suffer chapped paws and itchy, flaky skin. Even walks can be dangerous if they lick ice-melting chemicals off their paws.

DAS offers these tips from the ASPCA to keep pets safe:

  • Bang loudly on your hood before starting your car engine. Outdoor cats sometimes sleep under car hoods to stay warm. If they can’t escape, they can be injured and killed.
  • Antifreeze is lethal to dogs and cats. Thoroughly clean up spills from around your vehicle.
  • Trim long-haired dogs to minimize clinging ice, salt and chemicals that can dry skin. Consider getting short-haired dogs a coat or sweater with a turtleneck. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter.
  • Wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals. Remove any snow balls from between the footpads. Take a towel on long walks to clean off irritated paws.
  • Massage petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside to help protect them from irritants. Booties provide even more coverage. Use pet-friendly chemicals to melt ice.
  • Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as it comes inside. Give your pet a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from drafts.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells to avoid removing oils and causing dry skin.
  • Make sure pets are well-hydrated, and feed them a little more during the cold weather months because they burn extra energy trying to stay warm.

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