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URGENT: Freezing Temps Could Mean Death for ‘Outdoor Dogs’

Written by Alisa Mullins | January 6, 2014

I like to joke that my rescued greyhound, Jasper, is like a canine Barbie doll. He has an outfit for every occasion: two fleece jackets, a lightweight winter coat, a heavyweight winter coat, a raincoat, and even pajamas. I sometimes get ribbed by friends about Jasper’s extensive wardrobe, but greyhounds, like other short-coated dogs, are extremely sensitive to the cold.

Unfortunately, not all animals are as well-outfitted to withstand winter weather as Jasper is. PETA’s Community Animal Project fieldworkers encounter animals all winter long who are suffering outdoors. Dogs are often tied up outside 24 hours a day, sometimes with nothing more than a card table, a plastic carrier, or an overturned trashcan for shelter. Some dogs have no shelter whatsoever, even in freezing temperatures and blinding snowstorms.

One example of the latter is Noel, a starving pit-bull mix who was found by PETA fieldworkers tethered to the trunk of a holly bush and shivering violently in the December cold. Noel had no shelter, no water, and no food unless you count the few pieces of kibble scattered on the ground, out of her reach. PETA rushed her to a vet, who estimated that she was roughly half her healthy weight.

Sadly, Noel’s case is not unique. In December, PETA assisted with the rescue of a dog in Nebraska who had been left outside during a snowstorm and had icicles dripping from his face.

Nebraska Dog Freezing Icicles Face

Nebraska Dog Freezing Icicles Close Up

That same month, two dogs froze to death after being dumped outside the Terre Haute, Indiana, animal shelter after hours during a cold snap.

A stray cat named Trooper was found frozen to a driveway in Newfoundland after apparently being hit by a car and breaking his hip. His body temperature was so low that it didn’t register on a thermometer. His tail and one leg had to be amputated because of frostbite.

A kitten dubbed Rocky Balboa by Sioux City, Iowa, shelter staff because of his fighting spirit was found near death, frozen to a garbage can.

Two dead pit bulls were found frozen to the ground—one in Memphis, Tennessee, and the other in Philadelphia—after neighbors called police. “It makes me want to cry. I hate animal cruelty. … [I]t hurts my heart,” said one neighbor.

Dogs may have fur coats, but they are not immune to the cold any more than a person wearing a coat would be if he or she were to sit outside on the frozen ground all day. Many dogs, including short-haired breeds such as pointers and pit bulls, young or elderly dogs, and small dogs such as Chihuahuas, dachshunds, and beagles, are even less able to handle the cold than humans are. As Indianapolis animal control staffer Dawn Contos says, if it’s too cold for a human to be comfortable outside, even with a coat on, “It’s probably too cold for your dog to be outside.”

Stray, feral and “outside cats” are also at risk. One stray cat in Boston was found suffering from frostbite so severe that one of her ears fell off while she was being transported to the animal shelter.

Neglected and abandoned animals need our help in order to survive. Stray and feral cats should be captured and taken indoors. If a dog is being denied adequate food, water or shelter, please alert authorities right away.

In Noel’s case, a call from a concerned neighbor saved her life, and her abusive owner was charged and banned from ever owning animals again. Today, Noel is thriving in her new home. She may not have quite as many coats as Jasper has, but she never has to worry about being left out in the cold again.

Will you be an “angel” for a lonely dog chained outdoors? When you sponsor a doghouse for a dog in need, you’ll make a difference in the life of a neglected “outdoor dog.”

A version of this article was posted previously on the Modesto Bee.

Commenting is closed.
  • L says:

    Nobody mentions in the news how all the animals are doing during the recent cold snaps back east. How many wild animals, farm animals, and domestic animals have suffered or perished this winter? The losses must be horrific. Does anybody care?

  • Sandy Rasmussen says:

    Shortly before Christmas in Sioux Falls South Dakota a chihuahua was found frozen to death inside of a pet carrier by a garbage dumpster-— she was only wearing a thin sweater and had a small blanket to lay on– earlier that morning a lady went outside to investigate a barking noise that she thought she had heard and she saw the carrier but she did not investigate to see what was in it– she blames herself for not checking it out as she went back inside after hearing no more noises– garbage men found the dog about 7 a.m. the abuser was eventually caught– it breaks my heart to know that this could have been prevented, had the owner taken the dog to the shelter or if that lady had investigated further and brought the dog in– authorities thing if the lady had brought the dog and it could have been saved as she was outside at 4 a.m. when she heard the dog barking– it breaks my heart that she was so close to being rescued! And the pain and hopelessness that she had to endure!! Please if you think you hear a dog or cat outside in this weather please investigate it further!! That poor lady is still blaming herself for not doing that!!

  • Any form of animal or pet cruelty should not be tolerated, it must be reported immediately. These helpless creatures depend on the humanity of those of us with more compassion and soul. Some people need to be locked up for such actions.

  • Dominique R says:

    ” …. if it’s too cold for a human to be comfortable outside, even with a coat on, “It’s probably too cold for your dog to be outside….”

  • I see this all the time and sadly will keep seeing this because my county refuses to pay for a animal cruelty officer..even the dig wardens wife offered to volunteer her services but was denied because the county would still have to cover the insurance. I am deeply saddened that so many people will get away with abuse and neglect because of a cheap county.. I wish there was something I could do any advice would be nice.

  • L. Wright says:

    In northern Canada, there’s frequently no SPCA, what else can be done? Who can be contacted?

  • Oh please help, these animals do not deserve this!!

  • I cannot stand to see any animal suffer. I live on 5 acres of woods so of course there are feral cats. My husband and I built a shelter for them, it is elevated off of the ground and fully lined with sheet insulation with a ramp. We put food and fresh water out under the shelter twice everyday. We know that they use it because when we take food out early in the mornings they come running out of the house. Sometimes as many as 7 or 8 cats have been inside. If we see any that look sick we will try to catch them and take them to our local no kill shelter and give them a nice donation so they can be healed and adopted out. No food goes to waste at my house if it can be eaten it is put in the woods for the animals. We have deer, raccoons, red foxes and many many birds. We even have a groundhog that comes around. We put the food away from the house so no destruction and we have cameras mounted outside so we can see what is going on. Not to mention 2 inside cats and 3 dogs all of which rescued us.

  • joyce overton says:

    Please help the animals i feed the birds bread daily I help any of them the dogs and cat it hurt too see hear bad things about them I see them I going to help they need warmth food water.

  • perla mariela corpus torres says:

    animals chained or left out or maltreated break my heart

  • maria tobing says:

    if you can not take care your pet,please do not keep them…they alive,need something that the human need too…including love,do them as a family not a “thing”…

  • Sandra says:

    What kind of people do that to animals? Don’t they care about their pets?? So sad an frustrating

  • Julie says:

    When are the laws going to change worldwide to protect our animal? It makes me so sick.

  • Valeria Vargas says:


  • Flavie says:

    Pourquoi la vie d un humain vaudrait-elle plus que celle d un animal?

  • This is just awful! Thank God for the caring people in the world! I wish their were more we could do to help them. Recently, our neighbor had 2 dogs chained outside, with no shelter, food or water. I called the local police and HOA telling them what was going on. At first, they did not help much. A month later, the family that had the 2 dogs moved out of their home and our neighborhood. I’m not sure if they moved by choice or neglecting the dogs.

  • Ana Lu says:

    people are evil!!!!

  • Cheryl says:

    I know of a smal dog living in a shed in a cage.Once a day the dog gets out to go potty. It is so cold a few nights below 0. Why have a dog to live in a shed? I guesse this is exceptable. It is still cruel.

  • preeti deo says:

    Love your animals like u love your babies….

  • Mukesh Tanwar says:

    This is insensitive. I don’t think such humans deserve any compassion from anyone…

  • jordan guilbault says:

    I live in Arizona, who would I call? The humane society will do a wellness check during the day but that doesn’t help the dogs I hear crying out in agony every night in 45° to 32° weather all night long………..

  • Beatriz says:

    I live in Alaska, and sometimes we walk and see 2 “hunting” dogs in little cages out side in the cold 10f or 0, or -10. what can I do????

  • talia says:

    I What to thank e ver y single person That make a miracle happen

  • Karen says:

    We need to make sure there are legal consequences for these people that do not know how to treat animals – We need concrete laws – I will sign any Petition – please help these poor animals.

  • robert says:

    An old ice chest turned updide down with a hole just large enough for the animal to enter provides a great insulated free home. Just place in on any plywood or other base off the ground and add straw or other insulation. It takes only a few minutes and an old ice chest to do this. Theres no excuse!

  • Rejean says:

    How would you feel if you are left outside all the time? Dogs can feel pain and have emotions just like us.

  • People who leave their pets out door should be fined and banded from ever owning a animal again. If you do not want them in your house then do not get one in the first place.

  • Jeanie Farrell says:

    I use storage tubs and straw for my ferals. I cut an entrance and a small exit on the side and then fill with straw. I also cover the house with straw to keep the wind out. So far my New Jersey feral’s are surviving this horrible winter.

  • Manpreet Singh says:

    God made us the most intelligent being on earth for a reason. And one of the reason is to help the helpless beings. So please, be a Human.

  • Anne-maria says:

    People need educating about animals properly, and checks sould be done on people as if adopting a child! Because quite frankly the people that would leave a dog out in freezing temps simply have something missing upstairs in my eyes and it makes me doubt their general abbility to look after any living thing correctly or humainly!! This subject really bothers me and i hope PETA never give up your doin so much good!!!

  • Deneen says:

    I don’t understand why people do such stupid things like leaving animals of any kind out in the cold. Animals are people too. I have a dog and he is like my son. I would never do it to him or any other. Such moronic people when they think animals will survive in really cold temps. Where is there bleepin brain. An animal is like a child you need to care for.

  • Sue says:

    Siberian Huskies & Greenland dogs should be comfortable inside also. If you have a pet, you should treat them as family. You wouldn’t keep your kids in a pen?

  • vicky burr says:

    I live in Fl. We get very cold down here. Same applies here. Cows down here do not have barns. Something should be done. They get cold and also very hot. Sham.

  • Kerry Dolph says:

    I have at least 3-4 feral cats that I feed..provide shelter by putting a kennel with heat lights and a heating blanket and as much as I would love to “capture” them they would never let me. I have tried to live trap them and actually lost 2 from trusting me to come back!!! I am in WI experiencing – 50 zero wind chills and providing them with them with temporary relief is this best I can do. I wish more people would take steps to simply provide something for these babies even if it’s a cardboard box and blankets we can all do something!!!!

    • Bobbi says:

      Thank you for your good works in response to our companions in need! You’re awesome!

    • Diana DeGamon says:

      YES! WE CAN ALL DO SOMETHING!!! Straw works very well! It doesn’t get damp – and it insolates and keeps in the body heat. If you don’t have a cat house or dog house, then get a litter box with a top cover and fill it with straw—even pine shavings-Walmart always carries this–so does k-Mart. The animals just need to be out of the WIND and DAMPNESS! You can even cover the openings of the houses with a tarp or plastic. I gather the front of the plastic or tarp with a clip and the cats go under it and into their house. PLEASE do what you can for these babies. They are animals but they DO need our help! God will Bless you!

      • paz says:

        SO TRUE DIANA!.. My Labrador retriever is not really comfortable sleeping inside… she tosses all night and cries showing the door to the garage where she has an insulated house that we fill with straw..and she loves it!! ..we also turn on one of those lights (halogen) that we place nearby that also brings extra dog then just jumps inside and whenever I go check on her during the night she is nice and warm..and overall..sleeping like a baby..(like!!..let me sleep ..I am fine!).. Out of the wind is very important..and during the day, play with her 3 or 4 times for stretching, petting, feeding and drink plenty water. It takes work, time and patience, but if you have pets and you have no intention to take care of them, then you are not a pet person, you are a …(fill the word that fits here)

    • Cindy Harrison says:

      I love all cats and I enjoy helping the feral cats when he or she needs the help. Years ago I use to feed many feral cats and during the winter I use to put straw under the porch with old blankets for the feral cats. I worked with feral cats and I was lucky to have tamed a few. Pretty Mama was my favorite feral cat. She adopted me. Just before one winter she jumped on my screen door to come in. I let her come in and out as she wanted. I got her spayed and she lived with me for a very long time until she died at the age of 16 or 17 years old. Feral cats can be tamed but it takes a very long time to do so.

  • Stephanie Schmidt says:

    But what do you do when you see this??? Especially animals left tied up outside a house? My mom had this happen last night..she called the police, animal control and no one answered or called back. The temperature was in the negatives here last night. They finally returned the calls this morning which could have been hours too late. And they said as long as the dog had a house/shelter there’s nothing they could do…how is this not animal cruelty? So what do you do?

    • nina says:

      call the police.

    • Westie lover says:

      I’d take the dog and take my chances of the owner pressing charges. No way could I see something like that and not act. Arrest is better then letting the poor dog die. I’m totally willing to face arrest if it will make a point or save an animal. You have to be willing to “stand your ground” when it comes to your convictions.

  • Helen Petit says:

    But i don’t understand, shelters are supposed to take care of animals and have all the facilities such as warm inside shelters and blankets and heatings..I mean how come they don’t supply such facilities ? What can we do to help ?

    • Terri Valko says:

      Donate to your animal rescue places. They don’t get any money but what we donate. There are so many that are homeless an abused that they can’t do it all alone they need us to bring food blankets towels toys and money. Have you ever been to, call them ask questions and most of all. Tell everybody an convince them to help, then they might have enough to keep them all warm. Oh and they can’t know, unless you tell them if an animal needs help. So speak up. Hope this helps

  • Karin Silva says:

    Seeing cruelty such as this brings me to tears…I have 2 small dogs that I love with all my heart and we live in an area that gets very cold during the winter months…during these months our dogs use a piddle pad & are completely kept inside! (Unless we’re taking a trip or if they need to see a vet) and even with the heater going, my boy Cujo (he has very short fur) spends most of his time under the blanket with me. Some people should never be allowed to have a pet of any kind! I also would not hesitate to call the authorities if I’d seen an animal suffering in any way! Thank you PETA for all you do to help these poor defenseless animals!!!!

  • Jeaneen says:

    How can people be so cruel. I think it comes from thinking animals are ours to use and why not abuse. We eat them, wear them, use them for entertainment. Animals are more like people than most people are, they kind and caring and very loyal. time to stop eating and wearing them, no more animal entertainment.

  • Maria says:

    Omg! This is just torture to my eyes! I cant resist seeing this images its do sad! I thought there was advice on what to do if u see one outside but who cares on advice u do what u gotta do just catch them all and take them home !!! Feed them love them help them!

  • mary swilling says:

    Where is the public outrage?!

  • eddy eavenson says:

    how do we educate the unknowing of this? there are so many people that assume animals fur will keep them warm in any weather, please use your voices and help educate for the animals!

  • Joy says:

    I hate stories like this if your going to have animals take care of them they are like humans how would like to be put out in the cold and freeze to death I’m pretty sure you would like it either so start treating animals the same or don’t have any.

  • Deb Jamerson says:

    I have 7 feral cats that you can not catch them they are cage shy. So what I did was I bought dog houses and animal heating pads that go inside the dog houses. The cats go in to the houses and sleep on the heating pads. I have a large dog house and a med. house 4 of the cats go in the large one and 2 in the med. one. One of the cats will not go in the houses with the other cats I don’t know where he goes but he shows up every morning to eat and drink water. I wish I could get them in but there is not going to happen have tried time and time again. But I do what I can to keep them as warm as I can. These cats are not are but we are the ones who feed them and make sure they have water 3 or 4 times a day and a heated water bowl and make sure they are as warm as we can with what we have to work with. So you can do what you can to keep them from freezing to death. Don’t just turn your head the other way when you see an animal who is in need of food or a warm place to stay. Some one throw these cat out and most of the time was staying in the barn next door to us. So we started feeding them and when the weather got colder I got the houses and the heating pads. They go in the houses and sleep on the pads and that is all I can do to help these cats. So if there is a will there is a way to keep them from freezing to death sometime I wish I could get them to come in but as I said that is not going to happen.

  • etienne says:

    Dogs and cats shall be inside in the winter. No normal people have their dogs and cats out there, with the exception of the breed Siberian Huskie and the Greenland Dog. Dogs and cats freezes and gets pneumonia forkjølese that can be quite serious. So get the animals in the house in winter for heaven sake!!!

  • Anne-maria says:

    So sad to think people leave animals out in freezing conditons, keep up the good work PETA you help so much!

  • Although I see stories like these every day, they still make me cry… I am from Brazil and see horrible things being done to animals all the time. How can anyone leave a poor dog/cat outside in the snow???????? How hard is it to understand that they SUFFER???? What about the laws?? Shouldn’t there be laws to avoid it instead of punishing the owner only after it happens? So, so sad… Thank God for PETA and all the ones who care.

  • 3126088253 says:

    I’m sorry But I have come across homeless/lost dogs and cats (in freezing cold temperatures) who are terrified and run away. I was hoping for some advise on how to catch or earn the trust of these homeless animals to help them to shelter. Cuz right now my only course of action is to try to bribe them with food.

    • Terri Valko says:

      That is the very first step, food. Then patients and calmness, mixed with very slow movement will always win in the end. You need to stop an think, what have you been through little one. Then try to imagine how if you were them and people always ran you off yelled at you stomped their feet to shoo them away. Would you be afraid, you would, so just go SLOW and always talk nice nice nice. Make little upper pitch sounds but not loud. You will catch it just dont stop trying til you win them over. Thats all there is to it. They can feel you. Please let me know how it turns out

    • For great ideas that you can implement, I encourage you to go to YouTube and do a search for “Hope for Paws”. What this man does for homeless dogs is incredible. You’ll gain a lot of knowledge from watching him and how he does sometimes the impossible.


  • Petarules2 says:

    who could be so mean to do this to animals? People are true f**k*rs at times that they just WANT to see animals suffer.