CINCINNATI -- If it's too cold outside for you, it's too cold for your dog. A fur coat only goes so far.
That's the message many, including Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones and Cincinnati resident Rebecca Stiver, want Tri-Staters to keep in mind as the United States endures a historic cold snap that has left multiple family dogs frozen to death after their owners failed to provide warm places for them to sleep outside.
The Butler County Sheriff's Office issued a news release about one such case Wednesday. According to deputies, a welfare check on a dog in St. Clair Township ended in the discovery of that dog's frozen body in an outdoor dog house with no insulation. The pup's owners will be charged with cruelty to a companion animal.
"Sheriff Jones would like to remind everyone that freezing to death is a horrible way for an animal to die," the sheriff's office wrote in a news release. "The Butler County Dog Warden provides straw at no cost for bedding for animals in outdoor kennels."
How can I keep my outdoor dog warm in this weather?
Good question. The ASPCA recommends dog owners provide a thoroughly insulated or electronically heated outdoor shelter for their pets, avoid giving dogs close-to-the-skin haircuts and feed them a little extra during the winter. Warming the body costs calories!
Thirty minutes south of the township, Facebook user Lisa Henke-Sullivan posted a video of pit bull type dogs she said had been left in a Cincinnati back yard with rabbit hutches as their only source of shelter.
The video had been viewed and shared thousands of times by Wednesday evening, but legal reprisal for the dogs' owners was out of reach: As long as dogs in Cincinnati have some form of outdoor shelter, even if that shelter is inadequate for the weather, their owners are acting within the limits of the law.
Rebecca Stiver said she believes that needs to change.
"Somebody has to stand up and say something," she said.
Stiver started a petition requesting the Cincinnati City Council pass an ordinance restricting the amount of time pet dogs can be left outside in extreme temperatures. Under Stiver's proposal, which accrued 110,000 signatures, dog owners would be required to provide food and shelter for their animals and keep them outside for no more than six hours each day.
"They're voiceless, so when it comes to animals, we have to stand up and we have to be their voice," she said.