Monday, March 3, 2014

Outdoor Pets in the Winter

With the rain storm hitting southern California last night, it made me think of all the outdoor pets trying to get through the next few days.

I want to start by including a link to our personal position on "outdoor dogs/cats". You can find it here.

Ideally, the pet should be inside the house and a part of the family. But the reality that we encounter is some dogs will never be inside the house in their current situations. Rather than remove them from the home once we've tried to educate (because this puts another dog into the "system" and another dog into that yard), we work on improving the quality of life for the pet in that situation. Most of the time, these dogs are there to serve a purpose - to protect the house. In the majority of these situations, it's enough to see the dog for it to be a deterrent (which is good because most of these dogs are pit bull type dogs and are extremely friendly) to would be burglars. These dogs are well fed. They are loved. But they want them in the yard, end of story. How do you increase quality of life?

For starters, the dog house. Many of these dogs have homemade shelters. The father has made the dog house - and I can't begin to tell you how impressive they are. They are better than anything store bought (especially those igloos, which leak like crazy in the rain). The biggest problem is that they have no insulation. Anyone who has ever been out in the rain knows how miserable being wet is. At most, these dogs have blankets. Blankets get wet and they don't dry out. We encourage swapping out the blanket for STRAW. It doesn't mold and it provides warmth for the dog. It's inexpensive and can be easily swapped out.

There are many great How To's out there for feral cat shelters that I encourage owners of outdoor only cats to use. Here are a variety of shelter options for purchase and instructions for making your own:

Outdoor Cat Winter Shelters

While our position remains that pets should be inside the house, we understand that this won't always be the case in some of the communities we teach in. We are educating the next generation so that they understand the WHY and they know not to get a pet if it doesn't live inside the house. Dogs in the yard only protect the yard, they don't protect the house. But there is no reason to talk a family into relinquishing their current dog when you then have that dog to place in a new home and they will just go out and get another dog for the yard. Understanding the situation and making life better for that current pet should be the focus when education fails.

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