This bad winter has been hard on animals
The Faribault County Humane Society has had an increase in calls and responses to animals facing the harsh winter weather this year.
Cats and dogs’ tails, paw pads, and ears are mostly affected by frigid temperatures and are most likely to be affected by frostbite. Not only that, but the Humane Society has also seen an increase in matted fur with animals facing these harsh conditions.
Tazzy, a young black and white cat in the Humane Society’s care, has felt the full brunt of what frostbite can do to an animal living and surviving outdoors during this harsh winter climate.
When Tazzy came into the care of the Humane Society, she had severely frostbitten ears and paw pads. She recently lost both of her ears from the severity of her frostbite.
Captain Jack is another cat in the care of the Humane Society who came in with such severely matted fur from surviving in the snow, he had to be shaven, losing his greatest asset of keeping him warm.
Now that both are in the hands of the caring group of volunteers, the Humane Society is not only seeking foster homes for these fuzzy friends, but they are urging anyone who sees animals living in the cold to take action.
“Whether it’s calling us, or taking care of the animals themselves, there are some easy things people can do to help these animals,” says Kiera Erickson of the Faribault County Humane Society. “Not only is frostbite an issue, but so is dehydration.”
If you happen to find an animal who is dehydrated, they act very lethargic and wobbly. Erickson says if a person feels comfortable enough caring for an animal they have found in the cold, there are a few tips to get them back up to health.
“We do have a decently sized feral cat population in the area, and though we suggest not feeding feral animals, if anyone does find it in their heart to care for feral animals, feeding them with wet cat food, instead of dry, can help them with dehydration, as wet cat food has 70 percent more moisture than dry food,” says Erickson. “And giving them access to fresh water that is not frozen will always help with dehydration.”
If someone were to find an animal in dire need of warm conditions, Erickson has helpful tips for this as well.
“The first thing we do is bring the animal into a warm area and cover them in warm blankets,” says Erickson. “The Makotah Veterinary Clinic in Blue Earth has been a tremendous help to us as we care for these animals in the winter. They gave us great information on helping warm up cold animals. Using water bottles filled with hot water and placing them inside the nest of blankets with the animal helps to warm them up. Do not use a heating pad, and do not use a hair dryer, and putting them back into the cold will only harm them further due to the drastic change in temperature.”
Erickson says if you do come upon an animal who has severe frostbite on their ears, she says to allow the ears to naturally fall off.
“Don’t pull at them, or cut them, let the ears heal naturally as much as they can,” says Erickson. “Paw pads are the same way. If a paw pad has frostbite, they will usually be black, sometimes puss-filled, and it is important to just let them heal. If the frostbite is severe enough, the paw pad will fall off, and a new one will grow in its place.”
If citizens are uncomfortable caring for an animal they have found, calling or taking them to the Makotah Clinic is the Humane Society’s recommended plan of action. The team says they would take the animals, themselves, but the shelter is full. The shelter even has approximately a dozen cats who are waiting to be placed in the shelter from local farms that have found cats on their property.
The shelter is currently housing 11 cats, and three dogs who are in need of forever homes, and as mentioned previously, there are approximately another dozen cats on the waiting list for good homes.
“We are always looking for more volunteers to help us, and we are searching for foster families for the animals who need more care than we can give them, including Tazzy,” says Erickson.
The good news is that the Faribault County community has responded to help the Humane Society as much as they can. The local FFA chapter recently made fleece blankets for the cats and dogs housed at the shelter and, according to Erickson, the animals love them.
“It was such a small act that has helped in a giant way,” she says.
The Faribault County Humane Society also has hopes in the future to help with the feral cat population in the area by bringing Minnesota SNAP (Spay and Neuter Assistance Program) to the area. This program, with the help of volunteers, helps to trap, spay or neuter, and release feral animals in hopes of minimizing the growing population of feral animals.
Monetary donations are also a great way to assist the Humane Society in their efforts to assist these animals who need care. You can donate to the Faribault County Humane Society by talking to a volunteer, or by going to www.fchs-mn.org.
There is also a tab on their website to browse their list of adoptable pets if you are considering adopting an animal in need of tender loving care and a place to call home.