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Be kind to your four-legged friends

Jan. 16—GREENSBURG — With temperatures dropping and bitter cold conditions in the forecast for the coming week, it's essential to keep your pets safe.

Local ordinances for Greensburg and Decatur County stipulate that outdoor pets must:

1. Have access to a weather-resistant shelter with solid sides, a dry floor raised above the ground, a solid roof large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in, and an entrance covered by flexible, wind-proof material or a self-closing door.

2. The shelter must contain clean, dry bedding composed of an insulating material which doesn't retain moisture, e.g. straw. Bedding must be deep enough to allow the dog to burrow.

3. Small dogs (25 pounds or less) must be brought into a temperature-controlled facility when the temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medium dogs (25 to 75 pounds) must be brought into a temperature-controlled facility when the temperature reaches 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Large dogs (75 pounds or more) must be brought into a temperature-controlled facility when the temperature reaches 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pet owners should not use blankets for outdoor bedding; blankets retain moisture and will freeze.

Ensure your pets have access to water and that their water source doesn't freeze.

Local ordinances do not specifically address cats, but Greensburg-Decatur County Animal Shelter Director Minde Myers said the ordinance also applies to cats. For outdoor cats, Myers said one option is to put an insulated kennel out and/or a heated water dish.

The ASPCA website also includes tips for your pet's safety in cold weather.

Always remove snow from between your pet's paw pads if they've been outdoors.

Never shave a dog's coat down to the skin in winter.

Consider using petroleum jelly or another paw protectant on paw pads before taking your pet outside to protect their paws from salt.

Most importantly, remember if it's too cold for you to be outside, it's too cold for your pet.

The Greensburg-Decatur County Animal Shelter has free straw available for those who need it; call 812-663-9081 to check availability. You will need to bring a bag to pick up the straw.

Noelle Maxwell: news@greensburgdailynews.com.