Frigid temperatures lead to rising death toll among outdoor dogs

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The winter weather is blasting much of the East coast and the nation with frigid temperatures. Already, only 15 days into 2018, the death toll of dogs left outside in icy temperatures is rising. Everywhere you look, on all media sites you see the warning “If it’s too cold for you, its too cold for your pet.”

Several states and local jurisdictions have stepped up penalties against pet owners who leave animals exposed to extreme weather.Why then, do owners still ignore these warnings and leave their pets outside to die?  Why do some Animal Control and Law Enforcement agencies work hard to save these animals and charge the owners while others just turn a blind eye?

Terri Wilson,  a resident of Mays Landing in N. Hamilton Township, New Jersey, has been a strong advocate for dogs in her neighborhood who are left outside She has gone above and beyond by getting actual photos to assist the local Animal Control in knowing what kind of conditions a dog is living in.

When going to a house on County Blvd in May’s Landing to get photographs of a dog left outdoors in single digit temperatures, she was verbally assaulted by the dog’s owner. According to Terri, this same owner had another dog freeze to death in a dilapidated dog house. The resident has been keeping the current dog in a pen with the only shelter being an uninsulated, unheated dog house far from the house, near a wooded area.  This begs the question; why even have a dog just to leave it outdoors and ignore it 24/7?

Shore Animal Control responded to Terri’s complaint on the dog and told the owner she had to take the dog inside if the temperature is below freezing. The dog was taken inside for one night then left back outside. And the owner, knowing her dog’s situation is closely being scrutinized by residents and the authorities, has turned the dog house around so the entrance does not face the street and people will not be able to see if the dog is still out there.

The owner, besides subjecting her dog to a horrible life of misery has also been vindictive against Terri by filing harassment charges on her for speaking up for the dog. Terri has a court hearing on January 31st, 2018. In speaking to Linda Gentille, manager of Shore Animal Control via phone, she stated the case of the dog on County Blvd. has been turned over to the Atlantic County SPCA for further investigation.

In speaking further to Linda Gentille and asking what her agency is doing to relieve the suffering of outdoor dogs this winter, she advised her agency has seized multiple dogs from their homes over the past three weeks.  The animal control officers who respond to such complaints use a temperature gun to determine the temperature inside a dog’s house in extreme hot and cold temperatures.

Why do some agencies work hard to help these animals while others remain lackadaisical? Some officers have been known to tell the owners to put up a fence, so the dogs won’t be visible to passerby’s. This is equal to a child protective agent telling the parent it’s okay to beat their child if they do it indoors where the neighbors can’t see.

Until all complaints of animal neglect are taken seriously, until the animal services agencies, humane societies and law enforcement agencies work in tandem with each other for the well-being of animals, until harsher sentences are meted out to abusers and until Good Samaritans who act to help these poor creatures are treated like heroes instead of villains, dogs will continue to die slow, torturous deaths in freezing temperatures.

If you witness a dog(s) left outside in frigid temperatures, call your local animal control office, law enforcement agency or humane society and speak out.  Follow up on all complaints to assure action has been taken.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

                                    -Mahatma Gandi  

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10 replies
  1. Pamela Garlisch says:

    WTG Terri!!!! You are the voice for the voiceless and if you don’t do it who will? The answer is nobody! Keep following up, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. That’s what we are paying these people for, to do their jobs!

  2. Helen says:

    Is it stupidity or heartless? Just because the dog has a doghouse, it doesn’t mean the dog doesn’t get cold. If you don’t want your dog to live inside with the family, get a pet rock, and then you can leave it outside 24/7.

  3. Barkley's Mom says:

    No good deed goes unpunished! Terri Wilson is to be commended for not backing down amid harassment charges, The person doing the charging is a moron and needs to have the dog taken away from her, would it be harassment if it were a child out in the cold dog house? To think that animal control officers would tell people to “build a fence” to hide the fact your dog is freezing, is disgusting. This is the problem with many of these agencies, the people running them are no better than the ones committing the crime! Freezing dogs has become as big a problem as dogs being left in hot cars. Thank goodness there are people like Terri that are willing to put themselves at risk exposing this!

  4. Marni says:

    God bless you Terri. I pray that out of this comes awareness across the United States. Shame on these people who have dogs just to imprison them. What can we do to help Terri and others like her who choose to stand as a voice for these dogs?

  5. Denise Carey-Costa says:

    For those who want to help the dog in the story, please contact the Atlantic County SPCA regarding the dog at address 3045 County Blvd. They are investigating the case. Please let them know you are concerned for the dog and want to know what they are doing for the dog. They have a FB page to send messages. I just messaged them about another case in their jurisdiction that Terri is fighting for.

    • Beth says:

      Thank you, I just sent a message to them on their FB page. How can I sit here inside and warm, knowing that this pup, as well as others, are outside freezing to death. I have to try!

  6. Denise Carey-Costa says:

    UPDATE!! Just spoke to Nancy Beall at the Atlantic County SPCA. She advised the owner of the dog on County Blvd. has been taken indoors after much pressure from their agency. Owner is complying and dog has been brought in for shots, heart-worm treatment and treatment for Lyme Disease. Thank you Atlantic SPCA for taking these complaints seriously and looking out for the welfare of this dog.


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