Deputies rescue dog frozen to the ground

Photo courtesy Dubois County Humane Society
The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department had to take action Monday night in the Crystal area when responding to an animal welfare complaint. Deputies found two dogs, including Peanut, pictured, who was in imminent danger because he was frozen to the ground.

Herald Staff Writers

Sub-freezing temperatures can be especially hard on livestock and pets.

Amid the wave of frigid air that’s swept the state, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security has urged Hoosiers with outdoor pets who can’t bring them inside or into a heated garage to frequently check them to ensure their safety.

Most owners have been good at following those tips. But the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department had to take action Monday night in the Crystal area when responding to an animal welfare complaint at 10:57 p.m.

Deputies found two dogs, one of which was found to be in imminent danger because it was frozen to the ground.

The dogs’ shelters were plastic barrels without bedding.

One of the small dogs was chained to a pole and was laying on the ground. It could not reach its barrel because of the length of its chain, a deputy reported. The dog had a bowl but the water inside was frozen. It did not have food, police reported. That dog was taken inside for the night by the owner.

The second dog was chained inside a 5-by-3 kennel and its matted feet and hindquarters were frozen to the ground, according to a deputy. It was freed and taken to the Dubois County Humane Society until it could be examined at Dogwood Animal Clinic.

The sheriff’s department’s investigation into the incident is continuing.

Dubois County Humane Society volunteer and board president Andrea Hedinger said she woke up to find a flurry of 3 a.m. emails from members of the humane society team assisting the rescued dog, Peanut, which was described as an underweight sheltie-Jack Russel mix.

“It’s definitely heartbreaking what people are allowing to happen,” Hedinger said.

The humane society’s team met the deputy and Peanut in Jasper. Hedinger said the society’s executive director, Mary Saalman, was with Peanut until 3 this morning.

“She wrapped him up in a warm blanket and he fell asleep in her lap last night, Hedinger said. “He’s enjoying the TLC. We expect him to make a full recovery.

“We’re getting him over to the vet in a few minutes,” Hedinger said at mid-morning, adding that the public will be able to follow Peanut’s progress on the society’s Facebook page.

Mary Saalman, executive director of the humane society, said that in temperatures like these, it is best if outdoor pets are taken inside.

“The first recommendation is to bring them in from this bitter cold,” she said. “When it gets into the teens and below they should come inside, even if it is into a garage or a basement.”

If that isn’t possible, Saalman said extra efforts must be made to protect outdoor pets. “Put straw in your dog’s dog house that is 10 to 12 inches deep,” she said. “Make sure it is straw, because straw is hollow inside. It traps the air inside and warms it up.” She also suggested having “a really good dog house, insulated if possible.”

Humane society volunteers had gone throughout Dubois County on Friday and Saturday, ahead of the approaching brutal cold, to deliver straw to residents they knew had outdoor pets. Each bale of straw was accompanied by a pamphlet explaining, in part, that outdoor dogs would be needing twice the normal amount of food once the mercury plummeted. About 70 bales were dispensed.

“We just wanted people to know we were here for assistance if they needed us,” Hedinger said. “I get cold when it’s like 50 degrees so this was quite a trying exercise for me.”

Saalman said to double the amount of food given to outdoor pets. “When it is this cold, they used more of their energy to stay warn,” she said. “That weighs on their body, so you need to feed them more.”

For those who had financial difficulty doubling their outside pet’s food rations, the humane society’s teams also offered assistance in that area.

Saalman also noted that a cover should be placed over the dog house’s door and the house turned so that wind is not blowing directly into the house. Outdoor pets’ drinking water should also be monitored multiple times a day.

“It freezes really quick and they won’t have anything to drink,” Saalman said.

Indoor pets taken outside for walks or potty runs must also be monitored during extreme cold, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Indoor pets can get cold quickly, so their exposure outdoors should be limited. Another tip is to cover paws and other exposed skin, if possible.

The weather’s impact isn’t limited to pets. Farmers are keeping a closer eye on their livestock. Jim Verkamp, who raises cattle west of Schnellville, said he has not lost any cows to the ferocious cold.

To help his herd get through the cold snap, Verkamp put down fresh hay and straw to give his cattle dry ground to lie on. Several times a day, he checks their water supply to make sure it doesn’t freeze.

“We’re just trying our best to keep them warm,” he said.

When working in frigid conditions, he makes sure to bundle up.

“You have to watch yourself,” Verkamp said. “As a farmer, you have to work in the elements. You can’t change Mother Nature.”

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