6 Companion Animals Endured Cold Weather-Related Deaths in 2020—That We Know Of

The number of dogs and other companion animals who have reportedly died from causes related to cold weather in 2020:

6

Every year, PETA receives reports about dogs, cats, and other animals who have died after being left outdoors in cold weather. In 2020 alone, 6 companion animals died because of cold weather—and those are just the deaths that were reported. Most aren’t.

Year Deaths Rescues Incidents
2023 1 28 See the list.
2022 34 361 See the list.
2021 22 475 See the list.
2020 6 77 See the list.
2019 37 322 See the list.
2018 43 34 See the list.

The following list is a compilation of cold weather–related deaths of companion animals reported by the media in 2020:

Date Location Notes Number of Dogs and Other Animals Who Died
12/26/2020 Lakeville, Indiana A dog died after falling into an icy pond. 1
12/25/2020 Highlands Ranch, Colorado A dog died after falling through ice on a partially frozen pond. 1
12/21/2020 Rochester, New York Two dogs fell into a partially frozen pond. One dog was rescued, but the other one died. 1
12/18/2020 Hopkinsville, Kentucky A woman was charged with second degree animal cruelty after her dog was found dead outside due to cold weather and lack of body weight. 1
2/23/2020 Marquette, Michigan A dog died after falling through ice into the Carp River. 1
2/5/2020 Orland, Maine A dog and his or her guardian died after falling through ice while driving across a lake. 1

The following list is a compilation of cold weather–related rescues of companion animals reported by the media in 2020:

Date Location Notes Number of Dogs and Other Animals Who Were Rescued
12/31/2020 Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada A semi-truck driver rescued a cat who had been run over and was frozen to the road. 1
12/28/2020 Avon, Ohio A golden retriever was rescued by police officers after falling into an icy pond at Veterans Memorial Park. 1
12/23/2020 Needham, Massachusetts A dog and a woman were rescued after falling through ice into the Charles River. 1
12/22/2020 Eastchester, New York Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into a partially frozen lake. 1
12/22/2020 Frederick, Maryland A dog and the dog’s guardian had to be rescued after falling into an icy lake. 1
12/21/2020 Rochester, New York Two dogs fell into a partially frozen pond. One dog was rescued, but the other one died. 1
12/20/2020 Wasatch County, Utah Three people and a dog were rescued from a partially frozen reservoir. 1
12/18/2020 Easton, Connecticut  A dog and the dog’s guardian had to be rescued after falling into an icy pond. 1
12/17/2020 Whittemore, Michigan A dog had to be rescued by his guardian after falling into an icy river. 1
12/16/2020 Box Elder County, Utah A dog and his guardian had to be rescued after falling through the ice at Mantua Reservoir. The dog sustained lacerations and hypothermia. 1
12/16/2020 Round Lake, New York A woman who was digging her truck out of the snow found a cat who had sought shelter underneath the vehicle before it was buried by a snowplow. The animal was rescued and survived. 1
12/11/2020 Shawano, Wisconsin Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy river. 1
12/11/2020 High Point, NC Someone has been abandoning cats outside the Guilford County Animal Shelter. It has happened at least four times. 5
12/10/2020 Woodbury, Vermont Volunteer firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy lake. 1
12/10/2020 Colrain, Massachusetts Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen through ice on a partially frozen pond. 1
12/7/2020 Lone Tree, Colorado Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy pond on a golf course. 1
12/5/2020 Concord Township, Ohio Firefighters rescued a dog who was trapped on thin ice in the middle of a pond. 1
12/2/2020 Horace, North Dakota Firefighters rescued a dog who was stranded on a chunk of ice in a river. 1
10/26/2020 Commerce City, Colorado A kitten was found with her paws and tail frozen to the rim of a semi-trailer tire. The man who discovered her used warm water to free her, and she was taken to a shelter. 1
12/11/2020 Minnesota A dog ran away from his new home on December 11 and wasn’t caught until 66 days later after enduring extreme cold. 1
12/11/2020 Greensboro, NC Two cats were left in carriers by a dumpster outside a cat clinic during freezing temperatures. They survived. 2
11/25/2020 Bevent, Wisconsin Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen through the ice on a partially frozen pond. 1
11/16/2020 Dickinson, North Dakota Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy river. 1
3/30/2020 Pinedale, Wyoming A sheriff’s deputy rescued a dog who had fallen into a partially frozen lake. 1
3/9/2020 Leominster, Massachusetts A woman who was walking her dog with her family saw a dog who had fallen into a freezing pond and gotten stuck between two blocks of ice. She crawled out onto the ice and was able to rescue the animal. 1
3/5/2020 Sherburne County, Minnesota Sheriff’s deputies rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy river. 1
3/4/2020 Olmsted County, Minnesota A dog and three people who had tried to help the animal were rescued from Lake Zumbro. 1
3/2/2020 Muskegon, Michigan A dog was rescued after he went missing and was later found trapped on a piece of ice in the middle of a lake. 1
2/29/2020 Neptune City, New Jersey Eight dogs and puppies were rescued from a porch after being left outside during below-freezing temperatures. They were in cages covered by a tarp and had no access to food, water, or heat. 8
2/25/2020 Leverett, Massachusetts Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy pond. 1
2/23/2020 Chicago, Illinois Firefighters rescued a dog and the animal’s guardian from a partially frozen lagoon. 1
2/18/2020 Colorado Springs, Colorado Two dogs were rescued by firefighters after falling through the ice on a partially frozen body of water at a park. 2
2/16/2020 Springfield Township, Ohio A police officer and a kayaker rescued a dog who had fallen through the ice on a partially frozen pond. 1
2/15/2020 Boston, Massachusetts Firefighters rescued a dog and his or her guardian from a partially frozen pond. 1
2/12/2020 Plainfield, Illinois Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen through the ice on a partially frozen pond. 1
2/9/2020 Denver, Colorado A dog and his or her guardian died after falling into an icy pond. 1
2/6/2020 Vermilion, Ohio A young cat was found huddled and half frozen by an electric meter outside a business​. He wasn’t able to move, his fur was wet and frozen on one side, and his paws were bright pink. After a worker found him and warmed him up, he was taken to a veterinary​ office. 1
2/2/2020 Winthrop, New York Firefighters rescued a horse who had fallen into an icy river. The animal sustained minor scrapes and bruises. 1
2/1/2020 Flagstaff, Arizona Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy lake. 1
1/31/2020 South Milwaukee, Wisconsin Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen through the ice on Lake Michigan. 1
1/30/2020 Tilton, New Hampshire Firefighters rescued a dog who was stuck on thin ice in the middle of a lake. 1
1/30/2020 Jefferson County, Colorado Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into frigid water following a car crash. 1
1/30/2020 Oshkosh, Wisconsin Firefighters rescued a dog who was wearing a harness and leash from a frozen river. 1
1/29/2020 Bloomington, Minnesota Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy river. 1
1/27/2020 Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada A dog and four children were rescued after falling through the ice on the St. John River. 1
1/26/2020 Louisville, Kentucky A dog suffering from hypothermia was rescued by staff at Louisville Metro Animal Services after being tied to a fence outside the facility during cold weather. 1
1/24/2020 Manson, Washington Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into a partially frozen lake. 1
1/24/2020 Salem, Massachusetts Someone tied a dog to a pole outside an animal shelter during freezing temperatures. The dog was found and was fine. 1
1/22/2020 Drayton Valley, AB, Canada Three kittens were found, frozen to the ground. An oil worker found them and used warm coffee to unstick them from the ground, and they survived. 3
1/22/2020 Fort Smith, Arkansas A freezing cat with leg wounds was rescued after being spotted in a park. 1
1/21/2020 Jackson, Mississippi A dog was found emaciated with a low body temperature after being left outside for two nights in 20-degree weather. Rescuers responded to an anonymous tip that she was in danger, and her owner subsequently surrendered her to rescuers. The dog was receiving veterinary care. 1
1/19/2020 East Greenwich, Rhode Island Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into an icy pond. 1
1/19/2020 Sterling, Massachusetts Firefighters rescued a dog and his guardian from an icy pond. 1
1/18/2020 Glendale, Wisconsin Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen through thin ice into the Milwaukee River. 1
1/17/2020 Jefferson County, Idaho A dog was rescued by his or her guardian after falling into an icy river. 1
1/16/2020 Burr Ridge, Illinois A dog’s guardians went to church, forgetting that he was outside in 16-degree weather. While they were gone, he got stuck in the fence and was heard barking for an hour until authorities were called. A police officer was able to free him and took the dog into his care until the guardians came home. 1
1/15/2020 Bolton, Massachusetts Firefighters rescued a dog and his or her guardian from a partially frozen pond. 1
1/14/2020 Palmyra, Wisconsin A dog and his or her guardian were rescued after falling into an icy pond. 1
1/6/2020 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Firefighters rescued a dog who had fallen into the Ottawa River. 1
1/5/2020 Amesbury, Massachusetts A pit bull who ran away from her home fell through the ice on a pond and had to be rescued by firefighters. ​ 1
1/1/2020 Boulder, Colorado A woman fell through the ice on a lake while trying to rescue her dog, who had done the same. Firefighters rescued both of them. 1

No animal should endure a cold weather–related death. It’s inexcusable.

As guardians, we must take these vital steps in order to protect our beloved animal family members:

1. Keep animals indoors.

Puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, are particularly susceptible to the elements, but all animal companions should be kept warm and cozy indoors. Short-haired animals will also benefit from wearing warm sweaters or coats during brief trips outdoors.

2. Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam outdoors without supervision.

Being outside unattended is always dangerous for our animal companions, but cold weather poses even more risks. Cats can climb under the hoods of cars in order to get near warm engines and then be badly injured or killed when the vehicle is started.

3. Keep an eye out for strays.

If you see companion animals roaming the streets, bring them indoors until you can find their guardians, or take them to an animal shelter.

4. Clean dogs after they come in from the snow.

Salt and chemicals used to counter snow can make animals sick if they ingest them. Always clean off your dogs’ legs, paws, and stomach after they’ve been out in the snow. If you use antifreeze, buy a nontoxic brand like Sierra or Prestone LowTox.

5. If you see dogs left outdoors in extreme weather without proper shelter, alert the authorities.

Winter weather spells extra hardship for “backyard dogs,” who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. If you see animals left outside without shelter from the elements, note their location and alert local authorities immediately.

6. Help all animals survive cold snaps.

During extreme winter conditions, you can provide birds and other wildlife with access to water by filling a heavy nonmetal water bowl (tongues can freeze to metal) and breaking the surface ice twice a day.

©iStock.com/Merrimon

When the weather improves, be sure to remove any food offerings in order to prevent the animals’ dependence on artificial feedings.

*****

Together, we can help drastically reduce the number of dogs and other animal companions who die in cold weather and even eliminate these tragedies altogether.

Animals are counting on us—as their guardians and as good Samaritans—to keep them safe. We can’t let them down.

Take Action Now

You can become an “Angel for Animals” by sponsoring a PETA doghouse. We provide lonely “outside dogs” with sturdy doghouses to shelter them in the rain and in the snow and freezing temperatures of winter. Click below to help:

Make sure that all your friends and family members know the potentially lifesaving cold-weather tips above:

Watch this video, listen to this radio clip, and check out this ad to learn more about the reasons why you should never leave a dog outside during cold weather.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind