Not caring for your pets during this cold snap could get you in - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Not caring for your pets during this cold snap could get you in trouble

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Two young, abandoned dogs were found running around Youngstown's east side on Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities say if they had not been rescued, they could have easily died from the cold.

Not only can the extreme cold have serious health consequences for your pets, in some cases it's illegal to subject animals to the elements.

The Mahoning County assistant dog warden says you can be charged in Ohio with animal cruelty for unreasonably exposing pets to the elements. It's a misdemeanor in the first degree punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 dollar fine.

Thanks to a watchful resident on Thornhill Road in Youngstown, two puppies are now safe and sound and warm at the Mahoning County Dog Pound.

Dave Nelson, Mahoning County's Assistant Dog Warden, believes the dogs were left on purpose.

When he got to them he says they were shivering and by the looks of their paws, they had been outside for some time.

Unfortunately, a call like this is nothing new for the dog warden's office, especially this time of year.

Leaving pets outdoors in this extreme cold can create health issues. "Generally what I tell people is let them out there, let them go do their business, let them run around. As long as they are running around they are generating body heat."

Nelson says when the temperature falls like it did Monday night you need to make the necessary arrangements to protect your pets. "When these dogs are outside like that, for any given time, this frostbite sets in just like it would do on a normal person," Nelson said.

Nelson says pet owners can be ticketed and charged with animal cruelty by law enforcement officers, wardens and humane officers if the animals are subjected to elements that would make them sick or suffer in some way.

However, he says Ohio's law is one of the weakest in the country.

To avoid a run in with the law and to protect your own pets, Nelson suggests bringing your pets inside, even putting them in a garage on cold nights.

Make sure you water them every hour and a half, they need to stay hydrated. And if they are going to be spending long periods of time outdoors, make sure you provide them shelter, like a dog house, and put straw in it rather than blankets because blankets can retain moisture.

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