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With cold weather on the way, here's some tips to keep your furry friends safe

The Kent County Animal Shelter is reminding residents that adequate shelter, dry bedding and fresh water are required for animals left outside in cold weather.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — As winter begins to creep into West Michigan, Kent County officials are releasing tips to keep your furry friends safe and happy.

The Kent County Animal Shelter (KCAS) says any animals left outside during cold weather require special care according to Michigan law.

“The best place for our pets is in our home but we know that is not always possible. We encourage all pet owners to take appropriate steps to protect those animals that may be left outside for long stretches of time,” said KCAS Director Angela Hollinshead. “Many pets are not equipped to handle the effects of cold temperatures so we want to remind pet owners of their responsibilities to care for them during the winter.”

Dogs who are kept outside during the cold months are required to have access to fresh water, adequate shelter and dry bedding. Adequate shelter is defined as one of the following:

  • Inside the owners’ home.
  • An enclosure or shelter with at least three sides and a roof that is appropriate for the size and breed of the dog. A structure, including a garage, barn or shed, that is sufficiently insulated and ventilated to protect the dog from exposure to extreme temperatures, or if not sufficiently insulated and ventilated, contains a doghouse inside the structure.
  • Structures or natural features such as trees or topography for livestock.

In addition, dry bedding must be provided when the temperature is expected to fall below freezing. Straw bedding is preferred over blankets, since blankets can freeze if they get wet.

Lastly, fresh water is required. Owners must check frequently to ensure the water hasn't frozen.

For cats, KCAS recommends tote bins lined with foam and straw to make warm shelters.

“Michigan winters are certainly beautiful but can be dangerous for some animals if they do not have appropriate resources," said Hollinshead. “If you cannot keep your pet indoors and need resources, please call the KCAS to see how we can help.”

Any instances of animals not being cared for correctly in cold weather should be reported to Animal Control at 616-632-7310.

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