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Tri-Cities Animal Shelter making more welfare checks since cold snap started

Richland resident Suzanne Carnevali is used to wildlife near her home on Falconcrest Loop.

But just a couple of days ago, she saw something new: a German Shepard, never seen before, pacing up and down the street in the cold.

"You could tell how scared and frightened she was running up and down the street and so forth and that really upset me to see her so frightened.”

Eventually one of Carnevali's nearby neighbors trapped the dog in their garage and called the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and Control Services.

It's just one of several calls animal control’s taken recently about pets in the cold.

Director Angela Zilar says for the most part, the calls have been for welfare checks to make sure animals have proper shelter and food.

All three of the Tri-Cities have ordinance codes about animal shelters. All three say, “Dogs or cats kept outdoors for more than six hours at one time must be provided with a moisture-proof and windproof shelter of a size which allows the animal to turn around freely and to easily sit, stand and lie in a normal position and to keep the animal clean, dry and comfortable.”

But Zilar doesn’t recommend waiting to provide shelter after six hours: “Although we understand that the code is written that way, it's still very vague and it is still very gray, but when we get called out, we're going to educate people as to why it's not such a good idea."

Zilar says animal control nine out of 10 times educates people on keeping their pets safe. But if it can be verified that a pet was outside in extreme weather for more than six hours and that it was an imminent danger, an owner can be cited.

If an owner does decide to keep a pet outside, Zilar recommends providing them a shelter the animal will actually use.In addition, they must have access to water that will not freeze.

But most of all, she says owners need to have common sense.

"If you didn't do it for yourself, if it's too cold you, it's probably too cold for them."

The Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and Control Services is located at 1312 South 18th Avenue in Pasco.

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