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Animal shelter urges pet safety during winter holidays

The LaGrange Animal Shelter has started receiving several calls a day about dogs without proper housing outside in the cold.

“Now that it is cold, it seems like right now we’re averaging two to four calls a day from citizens letting us know about it,” said LaGrange Animal Services Supervisor Chris Bussey. “We also have officers out who are actively patrolling and looking for animals without adequate shelter during these cold winter months.”

According to the city of LaGrange animal code, the animal must have adequate shelter. The city defines adequate shelter as a protective covering for a domestic animal that provides adequate space and protection to maintain the animal in a state of good health, and that prevents pain, suffering or significant risk to the animal’s health.

The shelter must consist of a completely enclosed structure with four sides, a constructed floor, and a roof with a door opening. It should also be clean, dry and compatible with current weather conditions, in addition to age, size, species and condition of the animal. The structure should be of sufficient size to allow the animal to stand, turn around, lie down and go in and out of the structure comfortably.

Some type of bedding that is quick drying must be provided to maintain comfortable temperatures within the structure during the months of November through March. The structure must include a heavy plastic or rubber flap to cover the door and window openings during the months of November through March.

Bussey said the officer responding to the calls is addressing the situation case by case.

“It really depends on the situation,” Bussey said. “We look at how the animal is being housed or if they have any shelter at all.”

Bussey said if there is no proper shelter for the animal, they will take it until a proper shelter can be created.

Bussey said pet owners also need to watch for potential holiday dangers.

He said that the ASPCA recommends the following for families putting up a Christmas tree:

  • Make sure that your tree is tightly secured so that there’s no chance of it tipping or falling over and causing injury to your pet.
  • Keep the tree water covered and inaccessible. Tree water may contain fertilizer and other harmful chemicals. It can become a breeding ground for bacteria that could cause nausea, diarrhea or upset stomach. 
  • Stay away from tinsel for decoration. Ingested tinsel can cause severe vomiting, obstructed digestive tract, dehydration and could require surgery.

Bussey noted that wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments should be out of reach.

The LaGrange Animal Shelter will be closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 but if someone sees an animal without proper shelter or any shelter at all they can call 911. Bussey said the on-call animal control officer or a LaGrange police officer will respond to check on the animal.