News release from the City of Austin:

As temperatures drop to below freezing, the Animal Services Office would like to remind pet owners to protect their pets during cold weather.

During the last 24 hours, the City’s Animal Protection Officers have received more than two dozen calls from residents reporting pets being left outside. The office anticipates additional calls as the weather forecasts rain or sleet.

The best option is to keep your cat or dog indoors as much as possible during cold weather. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as Huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.

Pet owners also need to understand that an un-heated car is not effective shelter for a pet. The space inside a car is too large to be heated adequately with a pet’s own body heat. It instead acts like a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing frostbite or death.

Also be aware of outdoor cats during cold weather. Outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars to take advantage of the warmth of the engine and the shelter. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give any cats a chance to escape.

If pets can’t be brought in during cold weather, they must be provided with a snug place to sleep with a floor, a roof and at least 3 walls as well as dry bedding material (straw works best for shelters that are not fully protected from rain). Animal Protection can provide assistance to residents with providing doghouse assistance and even with extra blankets. More information about this program is on the website, here.

See more pet safety tips from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals here.

Lastly, January through March is an ideal time to have your pets spayed and neutered to prevent an excess of spring puppies and kittens. Residents should take advantage of free Mobile clinics provided by Austin Animal Center and Emancipet. For a schedule in your area, visit here.

For additional information visit the or call (512) 978-0500 or 3-1-1 for animal issues after hours or check Facebook for daily pet updates,