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Brrr.... We've come a long way, baby

January 15, 2009 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode
Most readers of the Altoona Mirror might say they probably thought they’d never live to see the day an African-American was elected president. I, on the other hand,  never thought I’d see a feature article on “pets needing special care in frigid temperatures” on the front page of my paper. I may frame this page. Heck, I may carry a copy in my purse (I’m that proud).  Thank you, Cori and JD, aka, Tucker's dad)

(Mazey, prepared for the cold)   Animal lovers automatically go into overdrive when temperatures drop. They are overly conscious of how extreme weather conditions can affect domesticated animals especially ones kept outside.

Yet for some people, the fate of animals left outside exposed to extreme temperatures with little or no protection, is the last thing on their mind.

For years, I’ve politely allowed people to tell me the reason their families kept “outside” dogs was for ‘protection’. You know what? No longer. No longer am I going to listen to that lame excuse for mistreating an animal that was created to be a pack animal by keeping it isolated on the end of a leash – tied to a dog house or caged in a pen. If you want a dog, you want a pet - a house pet that you have time to give attention to and care for. You don’t want – or deserve – an animal you keep tied to a doghouse at the far end of your yard that you see once a day when you feed it.

In today’s modern world of home security systems you can’t sell me the story that a dog tied to a doghouse is going to offer your home or family ‘protection’. It’s safe to say you have become de-sensitized to your outside dog’s bark anyway and wouldn’t know the difference between a playful bark or threatening bark. 

If you have a friend, relative or neighbor that still has an ‘outside dog’ (and I do know this from personal experience) they truly don’t appreciate the companionship a pet can provide. Many people still do not understand how archaic an act it is to keep a dog tied and isolated from other people or pets. They are pack animals and designed for social interaction. Without it they develop bad habits, can become territorial and even aggressive. Then people wonder why a dog becomes ‘mean’.

Especially during this cold streak, take extra precaution to keep your pets safe and take the time to educate someone who has an outdoor pet that may not understand how harmful this weather can be to an animal that cannot fend for itself.  
Check out the ASPCA website for additional cold weather safety tips.

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