The Green Bay Police Department is reminding people to not leave their pets out in these cold weather conditions
Despite frigid temperatures that aren’t suitable for most animals, the department says they’ve had 34 calls in the last week regarding animals. Those calls include animals running at large, left outside to the elements, and without proper shelter, food and water. One citation has been issued, while others received warnings – some written, some verbal – with education on proper pet ownership.
While it’s a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant to cold weather because of their fur, that’s actually not true – dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia – and no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wisconsin law requires an insulated, raised shelter that is properly ventilated and suitable to accommodate the specific animal. Failure to do so can result in legal penalties.
“Depending on the severity of it, it could result in a municipal citation, or rise to the level of a misdemanor or felony offense,” says Mallory Meves, Animal Control Officer, Green Bay Police Department. “If an animal is outside and has a shelter but freezes to death because it’s not insulated, not properly ventilated, and not adequate for that type of breed of animal, and the animal dies, it’s going to be a felony offense and that person is going to go to jail for that crime.”
There is a state statute that allows for good Samaritans to render aid to an animal they believe is endangered. However, the police department advises that you contact them for help if you find yourself in that situation.
“If you are going to do that, you need to call law enforcement, inform them of what you’re doing, before you take action,” Meves says. “Not after, but before, so that we have a documented call and our trained experts can get there and assist with that.”
If you see an endangered domestic animal in a vehicle, Wisconsin Statute 895.484 makes you immune from civil liability from forcibly entering the vehicle to rescue the animal if:
1. You had a “good faith belief” that the animal was in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm
2. You first determined the vehicle was locked before using force to enter
3. You contacted 911 or emergency responders before taking any action
4. You waited with the animal until emergency services arrive, or left contact information on the vehicle’s windshield
5. You used the minimum force necessary to enter the vehicle and remove the animal