Since January 1, people who leave their pets in extreme cold or heat in Illinois will be charged with a misdemeanor, and if the pet dies due to the exposure, the owner could face a $2,500 fine or up to a year in jail if convicted.
Veterinarians at the Emergency Veterinary Center applaud the new law, but they want an even stricter rule in the future that would require the owner to get their pet medical care if needed.
Dr. Kristy Hook says she sees a lot of animals with frost bite. An animal can get frost bite from being out in harsh weather, like the weather we saw on Sunday, for just 20 minutes.
Even if you don’t leave your animal in a car, you have to be cautious taking your pet for walks. Dr. Hook says the walk has to be short, and before you bring your pet in, make sure it doesn’t have ice and snow stuck in the paws.
When an animal comes in to the EVC, the first priority is to warm the animal from the inside out gradually. They use warm IV fluids, a warm bath, and heating blankets.
Depending on how severe the injury is, antibiotics or surgery may be involved in the recovery process.
Dr. Hook says there are signs to watch out for in case you think your pet may require medical attention.
“Watch out for severe shivering, shaking, redness in the ears, face, or feet, if they are acting lethargic and dumpy,” says Hook.
And when in doubt, call your pet care provider.