Cleveland APL investigates reports of pets left out in freezing cold

CLEVELAND-- The bitter cold weather may be uncomfortable for many people, but it can be dangerous and even deadly for pets. Humane officers are reminding people to bring domestic animals inside during these extreme temperatures.

Ohio law requires pet owners to give them adequate food, water and shelter. Officials with the Cleveland Animal Protective League said they are receiving about two dozen reports of animals being left outside to fend for themselves in this brutally cold weather every day.

On Thursday, Cleveland APL humane officers responded to a report of dogs being left out in the cold in a Cleveland back yard.

"They did have shelter. It was certainly not the worst situation we've seen, but it was not adequate shelter for these conditions and the dogs were shivering," said Sharon Harvey, President and CEO of the Cleveland APL.

Harvey said humane officers spoke with the owner, who agreed to take the animals inside.

"Our team really works hard to help pet owners understand the need to provide a different level of care when the weather gets this severe," she said.

Harvey said when the temperatures are bitterly cold, pet owners have a legal responsibility to shelter their animals. She said an insulated, elevated dog house is optional, but not optimal.

"Do they actually have access to it? Can they get into it? Are they on too short of a chain? If so, that's not adequate… We would like to see every dog, cat, every companion animal living inside and with access to somebody's lap, but we do know that there are animals that live outdoors," Harvey said.

The APL impounded a dog they named Johnnie Walker. He was rescued from an open garage and trapped inside a cage.

"It had nothing. No access to food or water. And the dog was emaciated and actually also in need of a surgery, but there was no owner in that situation that could be identified," Harvey said.

APL officials said most pet owners cooperate when confronted. Humane officers can take pets away from owners who don't.

More stories on the Cleveland Animal Protective League here