One of the greatest travesties that we can inflict on another species is to bring home a pet and chain it in our backyard. The animal belongs to the household but is not part of the household. It is forever looking at the people that have abandoned it.
The backyard dog is a symbol that the human race lacks the humanity and compassion to be pet owners. When I see a dog chained in its backyard, I side with PETA on their view of pet ownership. Pets should become a part of our family circle, not exist for our amusement.
One of the most common calls that animal services receive in the winter is to conduct welfare checks on backyard dogs. In too many cases, the calls are warranted and the animal is found without water, food, or protection from the cold. Winter isn’t the only season of concern; when temperatures are high, a dog needs plenty of water and shade from the heat.
Our pet’s love for us shows no bounds. I know this because I have carved a career in animal welfare due to the reckless manner in which people treat their pets. Let’s face it, if people were responsible pet owners, their would be no need for animal shelters and animal control officers.
Winter is the time that pet owners show their greatest ignorance towards their pets. A recent article out of Dallas Texas demonstrated this when their local media reported that Dallas was seeing an increase in calls concerning pets being left out in the cold. It is rare that any of our southern states could become cold enough to impact outdoor pets.
Dogs are social animals, so I am opposed to dogs living outdoors, not because of the effects of weather, but due to meeting their need to socialize with the pack (our household). Most of my dogs preferred cold weather, after all they have been wearing a coat all year.
I used to have staff freak out about temperatures get down to forty degrees, when many of the animals preferred that temperature. It is difficult to determine rules as to the temperature range for each animal because they are different. Most “northern breed” dogs prefer colder weather. And many shorthaired breeds appear to be cold when it is eighty degrees.
If it is possible, pet owners should show commonsense when dealing with their pets and the weather. If it is cold enough for your dog’s water to freeze, then it is probably too cold for your dog to be outdoors. I have lived in many areas that hot weather became an issue and we had to limit the time that an animal could be confined in an animal control vehicle. If the temperature got to eighty or ninety degrees, we required that the animal be transported directly back to the animal shelter. If an immediate transport could not be made, the officer was to pull over in the shade and hose down the dog to keep the dog cool.
Most dogs prefer to live in temperature ranges that are cooler that what we humans like, but that is no reason to leave them out in the cold.