Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: January 5, 2018
DOVER, DE (Jan. 5, 2018) - While the snow has moved out of our area, bitter cold wind chills ranging from zero degrees to 15 below are expected for the weekend. The Delaware Division of Public Health's Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) has been receiving and responding to an increasing number of calls during the recent cold weather. OAW takes each complaint seriously and investigates to ensure the safety of domestic pets. With this in mind, OAW is providing additional information and guidance regarding shelter requirements for pets, and in particular, dogs, to enable residents to protect their pets from dangerous weather conditions.
While it is understood that not everyone has indoor dogs, it is best for dogs to be indoors during times of extreme cold weather. Dogs that are acclimated to Delaware's outdoor temperatures are allowed to be kept outdoors, but Delaware law requires that owners provide clean, moisture-resistant bedding, and additional bedding and protection for temperatures 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 degrees Celsius) or lower. OAW recommends straw bedding because it does not hold moisture like cedar chips or old towels. A warm house with a flap and clean, dry bedding helps a dog preserve body heat and remain dry during rain or snow.
Short-haired dogs and other breeds that are not acclimated to Delaware's outdoor temperatures cannot be kept in outdoor facilities unless approved by a licensed veterinarian. While cats are not covered under the same law, outdoor felines need the same winter accommodations.
All dogs are required to be brought indoors when the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a hazardous weather warning. While all three Delaware counties are no longer under an NWS weather warning, OAW is strongly encouraging pet owners to bring all pets indoors due to the dangerously low temperatures Delaware is experiencing this weekend.
"If you're cold, they're cold," said OAW Acting Director Christina Motoyoshi. "Like people, dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside when the temperatures get this low."
OAW officers are responding to calls across the state and are working with pet owners to ensure their animals' continued health and safety during these cold temperatures. If you see a pet that has been left outdoors in cold temperatures without proper shelter or protection from the elements, report it to the Delaware Animal Services Hotline at 302-255-4646. Residents are advised, however, to limit their reports to cases in which they physically witnessed improper treatment or care of an animal. For more information, visit: https://animalservices.delaware.gov/.
Take these additional precautions to protect your pet in the cold:
A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.