Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You go, Toronto (and other Canadian Communities)

The Toronto City Council has banned the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins and their byproducts within the Toronto City limits. The move comes on the heels of similar prohibitions that have recently been passed in the cities of Brantford, Mississauga and Oakville.

Read more here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Franklin Celebrates National Feral Cat Day

Franklin says "thank you" to everyone who helps ferals, and former ferals, like him!

Friday, October 14, 2011

There's Still Time to Take Part in the Biggest National Feral Cat Day Ever

The big day is almost here—National Feral Cat Day is this Sunday, October 16! How are you going to celebrate?

Join us in showing America’s compassion for cats from coast to coast by participating in National Feral Cat Day 2011. With more than 320 events registered nationwide—far exceeding our goal of 250 events in all 50 states—this will be the biggest National Feral Cat Day in history. Don’t miss out on your chance to be part of it!

Here’s a few ideas of how you can help protect cats’ lives on Sunday (visit for links to each idea!)

Attend an event near you to show your support for humane cat care.

Talk up National Feral Cat Day on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

If you have a blog, write a post about feral cats, TNR, and/or National Feral Cat Day. Feel free to link to our online resources and add a National Feral Cat Day banner to your website!

Download and hand out materials like posters and truth cards to educate your community about feral cats.

Make a special National Feral Cat Day donation to Alley Cat Allies so we can continue helping cats year round.

Find more ideas and the instructions and information you need to make them happen on our National Feral Cat Day website.

However you decide to improve the lives of cats this weekend, be sure to let us and the entire National Feral Cat Day community know about it. Post about it on Twitter using the hashtag #NFCD2011, tag us in your Facebook posts, and don’t forget to show us your pictures!

Alley Cat Allies

P.S. Make the biggest National Feral Cat Day ever even bigger! Share this message with your friends.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Alley Cat Allies’ national day celebrates strength of the movement to educate communities and protect cats

BETHESDA, MD – The 11th annual National Feral Cat Day is October 16, and Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for stray and feral cats, is celebrating the broad support seen across the country for humane and effective policies that protect the lives of feral cats.

“Alley Cat Allies launched National Feral Cat Day in 2001 to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return, and recognize the millions of compassionate citizens who care for cats,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “On National Feral Cat Day and all year round, people all across the country work to draw attention to the cause and press their local leaders for humane policies for feral cats. This is truly a national movement.”

Feral cats live and thrive in every landscape, from urban to rural. Because they are not socialized to people and are not candidates for adoption, feral cats taken to animal shelters are almost always killed. Although many communities have embraced Trap-Neuter-Return—which ends the breeding cycle and stabilizes the population—being killed in an animal shelter remains the leading documented cause of death for cats, Robinson said.

“There is much more work to do to educate our neighbors and leaders about the need to launch humane programs that really work for our communities,” she said.

Robinson noted that America is responding to this need. This year’s National Feral Cat Day is a resounding success, with 250 events planned in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada, including spay/neuter drives, community celebrations, and workshops that educate neighbors about the best and most humane ways to help cats in the community.

For the first time, Alley Cat Allies also gave awards to a number of local nonprofits across the country for the most creative and innovative community programs, including five “National Feral Cat Day Superstars,” who were awarded $1,000 each for their unique life-saving programs.

A full listing of national events, as well as more information about how people can get involved on National Feral Cat Day, is available at Poster, T-shirts, and other fun NFCD-themed items are also available.


About Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has more than 260,000 supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives cats and kittens nationwide. Their web site is

Friday, September 23, 2011

A victory for Cats and Dogs in Toronto

Here's some great news from Canada -- let's hope some U.S. cities follow suit!

Toronto Council bans pet shop sale of dogs, cats, unless they're from shelters

by Carys Mills

Dogs and cats sold in Toronto pet shops must now come from animal shelters, rescue groups or people giving up animals for free.

Toronto city council voted unanimously on Wednesday to make the changes, which aim to put an end to puppy and kitty mills.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker put forward the motion. He said puppy mills are bad for pets and consumers.

Read more in the Globe and Mail

Thursday, September 15, 2011

HSI Applauds European General Court Ruling on Seal Products Ban

MONTREAL—Humane Society International commended a landmark decision by the European General Court to dismiss a case challenging the 2009 European Union prohibition on trade in products of commercial seal kills. The world’s largest commercial sealing interests, together with fur industry lobby groups and a number of Inuit sealing advocates, put forward the case in 2010.

“This cynical attempt to overturn European law, by those who seek to profit from the mass commercial slaughter of baby seals, has failed,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “This is an important victory for the overwhelming majority of Europeans and Canadians who want the seal slaughter to end, and for the countless seals who will be spared a horrible fate because of this decision. Today’s ruling is yet more evidence that the commercial sealing industry is coming to an end. It is time for the Canadian government to respect Canadian and global opinion and implement a fair plan to compensate sealers and bring the seal slaughter to a final close.”

The dismissed case (T-18/10) was an application to the European Court requesting an annulment of European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009, which prohibits the placing on the market of products from commercial seal hunts throughout the European Union. The European Court did not have to reach the merits of the case having found that the applicants were not “directly concerned” by the seals regulation, a key factor in determining whether a legal challenge is admissible.

Case T-526/10, a secondary application by the same group, is still before the Court. It requests an annulment of European Parliament and Council Regulation No 737/2010, which outlines how the ban is enforced.

This ruling comes on the heels of the Canadian government challenge of the EU ban at the World Trade Organization, which has been perceived by many in the EU as a baseless attack on European values and democratic processes. In response, a number of Members of the European Parliament have indicated they are less likely to ratify the pending Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement—a deal reportedly worth $12 billion annually to Canada’s economy—unless Canada withdraws its WTO challenge.

Friday, August 26, 2011

From the ASPCA: People Saving Pets: Debunking Myths About Homeless Animals

People Saving PetsMyths about homeless pets abound, but the ASPCA is working overtime to counter those misconceptions. You can find the pet of your dreams at an animal shelter. Here are just a few of the many myths that exist about homeless pets: The Myth: I want a purebred animal, but all homeless pets are mixed breeds.
The Truth: In the U.S., an estimated 30 percent of all homeless pets are purebred. Right now, at the ASPCA, we have several purebred pets ready for adoption, including Amber, a purebred Miniature Poodle who adores people and other dogs.

The Myth: Homeless pets must be unwanted for good reasons.
The Truth: Pets end up in shelters for a number of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with the pet. Adoptable pets typically come from loving homes that simply cannot care for them anymore. Or they are strays who’ve been on their own without the loving care they deserve. Homeless pets make great family members!

The Myth: You never know what you’re getting with an adopted pet.

The Truth: While the background of some homeless pets is a mystery, many waiting for homes have long and happy histories with families who simply can no longer care for them.

For information about how we can all help solve pet homelessness and keep debunking the myths, please visit People Saving Pets is a national campaign to help save the lives of homeless pets in which the ASPCA is a leading partner. Getting involved is easy—visit and share the link with your friends. Just a few simple actions can make a big difference for animals!

Monday, August 15, 2011


More than 75 cats neutered at day-long clinic; highlights critical need for services

MONESSEN, PA—A total of 78 cats were neutered on Sunday at a day-long veterinary clinic sponsored by Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats.  The services were provided at no cost to residents of Monessen, many of whom brought their house cats to be spayed or neutered.

“There is an enormous need for accessible and affordable spay and neuter services for the cats in Monessen, both owned house cats and feral cats in colonies” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies.  “We stepped in to help fill this tremendous need.”

Monessen was the subject of much controversy last March after city leaders hired a private trapper to trap cats and bring them to a local shelter where most were immediately killed.  The trapping, which was carried out with no prior notice to town residents, resulted in the deaths of dozens of cats.  Many of the cats’ caregivers did not discover their fates for nearly a week following the trapping.

“The big turnout for services we saw on Sunday is yet more indication that residents of Monessen don’t support killing—they want humane care for the city’s cats, including Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats and affordable spay and neuter for all cats,” said Robinson.  

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) ends the breeding cycle, stabilizes the population and helps feral cats lead healthier lives.  It also makes the cats better neighbors by ending behaviors associated with mating, like yowling and fighting.  Many communities across the country have embraced TNR after realizing that catch and kill is cruel, expensive, and doesn’t achieve its goal.  

Still, Robinson noted, being killed in an animal shelter remains the leading documented cause of death for cats nationwide.  More than 70 percent of cats brought to shelters are killed there, at enormous expense to taxpayers and shelter donors. 

“Trap-Neuter-Return is the only effective course of action for feral cats,” said Robinson.  “If Monessen city leaders had invested in spay and neuter, dozens of cats could have been saved.”

“We applaud the local residents who came out today and those who helped to organize this important event.  We hope city leaders are paying attention and are finally ready to be responsive to the needs of the community,” Robinson said.

So much for bringing the towels upstairs!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Updating the Paws website

If you're a regular follower of Our Place to Paws, you've probably realized that besides updates on this blog, we haven't been posting new information on the main website for a number of months. Our Place to Paws has always been a labor of love, and as finances ran out and advertising failed to come in, we had to make the decision to let the site lie dormant for now. We have a great Facebook Group that anyone can join for regular updates of animal news, photos, and other fun tid-bits, and we are hoping to update the website again in the coming weeks or months. For now, we hope the information that's already available is still useful to anyone who stops by to visit. And we'll keep updating the blog, of course!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nestlé Purina Recalls Limited Number of Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food Bags Due to a Potential Health Risk

Nestlé Purina PetCare Office of Consumer Affairs: 
Keith Schopp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 29, 2011 - Nestlé Purina PetCare Company (NPPC) is voluntarily recalling a limited number of 3.5- and 7-pound bags of its Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food from a single production run and shipped to customers in 12 states in December 2010.  This is being done because some bags of the product have been found to be contaminated with Salmonella.  Only Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food with both the “Best By” date and the production code shown are included in this voluntary recall :
Product Name
Bag size
“Best By” Date &     Production Code*   
Bag UPC Code
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+3.5 lb.   MAY 2012  03341084
17800 01885
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+   3.5 lb.MAY 2012  0335108417800 01885
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+7 lb.     MAY 2012  03341084
17800 01887
Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+   7 lb.        MAY 2012  0335108417800 01887

*”Best By” Date and Production Code are found on the back or bottom of the bag.
No additional Purina cat or dog products are involved in this voluntary recall.  No other Purina ONE brand products are involved.   Only Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ brand products which match the “Best By” dates and production code above are included in this recall.

Consumers who have purchased Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food products with these specific “Best By” Date and Production Codes should discontinue feeding the product and discard it.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the product, and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated products.  People handling contaminated dry pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product.  Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for the following symptoms:  nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.  Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms.  Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may exhibit decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.  If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting.  Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.  If you pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The product was distributed to customers located in California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin, who may have further distributed the product to other states.

Nestlé Purina PetCare Company became aware of the contamination as a result of samples that had been collected in several retail stores.

At Nestlé Purina PetCare, the safety and efficacy of our products are our top priority.  We apologize for any inconvenience due to this voluntary recall.  For further information or to obtain a product refund, please call NPPC toll-free at 1-800-982-6559 or visit

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, announced that Britt Cocanour has been named executive director of the organization.  Cocanour, a veteran campaign strategist and leader for progressive social change initiatives, will join Alley Cat Allies co-founder Becky Robinson, president, and Donna Wilcox, former executive director and current vice president, in forging a new path in the national movement to protect and improve the lives of cats.

“We are thrilled that Britt has joined us at this critical moment in our organization’s history,” said Robinson.  “After more than 20 years of bringing humane programs like Trap-Neuter-Return to cities across the country, we are now ready to begin a new chapter in our organization’s mission.
“Britt’s leadership will be essential as we focus national attention on the fact that being killed in an animal shelter is the leading documented cause of death to cats—and as we work to replace these failed policies with a transformed system that respects the lives of cats and is truly responsive to the community’s needs,” said Robinson. 
Cocanour brings more than 15 years of extensive nonprofit management and strategic leadership skills to Alley Cat Allies.  She was previously chief of staff at EMILY’S List, the nation’s largest financial resource for women running for office, where she managed a staff of 60 and a budget of $35 million. 
Cocanour was also the founder of EMILY’S List Political Opportunity Program, which has trained over 5,000 women to run for state and local office and helped elect hundreds.  She holds a B.A. from Bowling Green State University in political science.
“As someone passionate and committed to the cause of animal protection and respect for the lives of cats, I am excited to join Alley Cat Allies and help expand our influence and public presence as we embark on this transformational new mission,” said Cocanour. 
Founded in 1990, Alley Cat Allies is the recognized global expert on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the only effective and humane approach to feral cats in the community.  Leadership and advocacy by Alley Cat Allies has inspired dozens of cities across the U.S., including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Chicago, to embrace TNR over failed, outdated catch and kill policies. 
The organization employs a staff of 30 in its Bethesda, Maryland headquarters.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Hope for the Snow Leopard

A "surprisingly healthy" population of rare snow leopards has been discovered in the remote northeastern stretches of Afghanistan, one of the few areas largely unaffected by the near decade-long war in the country.
Researchers photographed the elusive big cat using camera traps at 16 different locations across Afghanistan's mountainous Wakhan Corridor, according to a recent report from the World Conservation Society.
The images are the first camera trap records of snow leopards in Afghanistan, the organization noted. Read more at CNN here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pet guardians: Do not leave your dogs or other pets in the car!

Every year we read terrible stories about dogs left in cars with just the windows cracked open, even when it's brutally hot outside. Please don't leave your dogs in the car! A car can heat up to dangerous levels rapidly, even when the windows are open, leaving your pets in grave distress and endangering their lives.

Read this news story for more information! Take care of your beloved friends. DON'T LEAVE THEM IN THE CAR!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pet owners cautioned against giving potassium iodide to animals

March 17, 2011

Pet owners anticipating the possible movement to the West Coast of radioactive material from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plants should not give their dogs, cats or other pets potassium iodide tablets, cautions a UC Davis veterinary cancer researcher.

"At this point there is no risk to pets in California stemming from radiation released from the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan," said Michael Kent, a faculty veterinarian who specializes in radiation cancer therapy.

He noted that UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has been receiving dozens of phone calls daily this week from pet owners concerned about possible radiation health risks to their pets.

“While potassium iodide might help protect dogs, cats and other pets, as it would people, from the risks of radiation exposure in the unlikely event that radioactive iodine reaches here in appreciable levels, giving it ahead of time carries risks and would be ill advised,” Kent said.

He cautioned that side effects for pets taking potassium iodide — especially if they consume too much — include severe allergic reactions; gastrointestinal upsets including vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia; decreased normal thyroid function; and damage to the heart. At high enough levels, potassium iodide can even cause death.

His recommendations mirror a March 15 public advisory from the California Department of Public Health, which warned Californians to not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure:

Kent is available to talk with news media today, Thursday, March 17, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Center for Companion Animal Health, adjacent to the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Reporters should call ahead to arrange interview times.
About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 32,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget that exceeds $678 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
Media contact(s):

* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Snowflake heads to her new home

Snowflake, the cat we rescued from the cold, icy New England winter this year (she was living under our deck) heads to her new home today. A couple has decided to adopt her. We can't call it a "forever home" until they take the necessary time to allow her to adapt to their home and be introduced to their own cat, Bogie. If all goes well over the next few weeks and Snowflake settles in and gets along with Bogie, she will have a wonderful new home.

It's very sad to see her go, though. After having a cat in your home for a month (and seeing her outdoors for months before that), you of course feel as if the cat is part of your family. In our case, we have four other cats and they just weren't prepared to fully accept a fifth. We know it's best for Snowflake, our cats, and us if Snowflake finds a home with more space, fewer cats, and more attention that can be devoted to her. But it doesn't make it easy to see her go.

Hats off to all of the great volunteers out there who foster cats, dogs, and other animals for animal rescue organizations, giving them temporary, loving, and comfortable homes while they wait for forever homes. I've learned how difficult the job can be when you have to let them go! But you do it knowing that you prevented suffering and saved a life; and what could be better than that?

We wish you a happy life full of love, Snowflake!

Monday, February 28, 2011


Alley Cat Allies calls on supporters to oppose dangerous legislation

BETHESDA, MD — Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for stray and feral cats, today renewed calls to oppose legislation that would legalize the shooting of cats in Utah.

Utah House Bill 210 was amended on the floor of the Utah House of Representatives, after the House Judiciary Committee removed earlier language that allowed for the shooting or killing of cats when that version was roundly criticized for endorsing animal cruelty. The amended version would still permit the shooting of cats in rural areas of the state. Feral cats are currently protected under Utah anti-cruelty law.

“This dangerous legislation imperils the lives of all cats—pet, stray and feral,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “It is barbaric and essentially declares ‘open-season’ on any outdoor cat.

“Feral cats exist in every landscape—from rural to urban. Feral cats are not a threat to people—in fact, they are just as healthy as pet cats. It is irrational, dangerous, and in direct opposition to society’s values to endorse shooting cats,” she said.

Feral cats are domestic cats, but unlike pets, they are not socialized to people and are therefore unadoptable. Numerous communities across the U.S. have adopted Trap-Neuter-Return as official policy for feral cats after decades of the failure of catch and kill.

Robinson noted that all cats are protected under anti-cruelty statutes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Anti-cruelty laws have existed for over a hundred years to protect animals and our communities from violent people,” she said.

Alley Cat Allies is urging supporters to contact their lawmakers to stop House Bill 210 by visiting To learn more about how feral cats are protected under anti-cruelty laws, visit

# # #

About Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their web site is

Friday, February 18, 2011

Snowflake Needs A Home! (Boston area)


Snowflake was seen in our yard for at least a year before we took her into our home to spare her being outdoors during this difficult winter. The Cat Connection trapped her about a year ago and had her spayed, tested and vaccinated, but because she was an adult considered too old to be tamed, she was returned to the neighborhood, where we think she was living under someone else's deck. For the past few weeks, she has been coming into our yard and we have been feeding her wet food. She became so friendly and tame that we started to pick her up, pet her, and eventually bring her indoors.

Snowflake has since had another veterinary appointment. She is perfectly healthy and is negative for FIV/leukemia. She seems completely comfortable with people once she gets used to them (at first when a stranger comes here to meet her, she is nervous and hides for a while, because the first time strangers came into our home to see her, they stuffed her in a cat carrier and took her to the vet!). Once she knows you and is comfortable, she loves to be picked up and cuddled, and to play with toys. She loves company and would probably be happiest in a home with another friendly, playful cat, and where she wasn't left totally alone all day. She purrs a lot and is very playful. She uses her litter box and tolerates the other cats in the household well. We think she is about two years old, but she plays like a kitten.

Snowflake is so sweet that we wish we could keep her, but we already have four cats, and one of them is older and doesn't want us to add a fifth to the mix. So we are looking for a loving, happy home for this pretty girl who deserves a forever home.

Email OurPlacetoPaws(at) if you are interested in giving a loving, happy, indoor home to this pretty cat!

Friday, February 4, 2011


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Assessment is based on flawed science, would result in cats’ deaths

BETHESDA, MD — Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for stray and feral cats, said a proposed plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to trap and remove cats in the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges will not succeed in protecting other species and will result in cats’ deaths.

In comments submitted to the agency, Alley Cat Allies said the plan is not viable, nor is it based on good science.

“As animal advocates, we want what is best for all the animals of the Florida Keys. Unfortunately, the Fish and Wildlife Service Draft Environmental Assessment is not it,” said Alley Cat Allies president Becky Robinson.

“The plan is based on a deeply flawed interpretation of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) research and several studies were omitted. Similar plans by the agency have already killed feral, stray and pet cats, with no benefit whatsoever,” she said.

Alley Cat Allies also notes that the agency relies on highly biased sources in criticizing TNR, and that it ignores a successful and ongoing TNR program just miles from the refuges in Key Largo.

The plan relies on “trap and remove” for cats—a costly and inefficient approach that has already failed in the Florida Keys and elsewhere.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is misleading the public by not acknowledging that the cats will be killed. It calls it a ‘trap and remove’ plan, but trapped cats will be brought to the local shelter where they will be killed,” said Robinson.

Feral cats are not socialized to people and are therefore not adoptable. Virtually 100 percent of feral cats who are brought to shelters are killed there.

To download a full-text version of the comments submitted by Alley Cat Allies to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, , visit

# # #

About Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their web site is

If you would rather not receive future communications from Alley Cat Allies, let us know by clicking here.
Alley Cat Allies, 7920 Norfolk Avenue, Suite 600, Bethesda, MD 20814 United States

Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Pet Safety Tips

From the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency:

“As the harsh winter months settle in, it is important that you think about keeping your pets safe from all of the dangers that the season can present,” states Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Acting Director Kurt Schwartz. “MEMA offers some tips to help insure your pet’s safety.”

• Do not leave your pet outdoors when temperatures drop below freezing. Dogs need outdoor exercise, but take care not to keep them outdoors for lengthy periods of time during very cold weather. Pets that are mostly indoors need time to adapt to cold temperatures by building up a thicker coat and toughening their footpads for ice and snow. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks. Dogs and cats are safer indoors during all sorts of extreme weather.

• Care for your pet’s feet. If your pet walks on salted or chemically treated areas, be sure to wash its paws after your walk. Gently rub the bottom of the feet to remove these irritants as soon as your dog is off the road. Many dogs need boots in cold weather, regardless of their coat length. If your dog frequently lifts up its paws, whines or stops during walks, it may be demonstrating that its feet are uncomfortably cold.

• Wind-chill is a threat to pets, even those protected by shelters. Outdoor dogs must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to both sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to retain body heat. The floor should be elevated a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The entrance of the doghouse should be turned to face away from prevailing winds, and the entrance should be covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic.

• Pets who spend a greater amount of time outdoors in the winter need more food. Maintaining warmth depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to ensure the water is fresh and not frozen. To prevent your pet’s tongue from freezing to its feeding or drinking bowl, plastic, rather than metal food and water bowls are preferred.

• Never leave a pet locked inside a car during extremely cold weather. Cars can actually act like a refrigerator, holding in cold air, putting your pet at risk.

• Be leery of frozen bodies of water. Always keep your pets on a leash when walking them near suspected frozen bodies of water. The ice may not be sturdy enough to support your pet. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt to rescue your pet yourself; call 9-1-1 or go for help.

• Antifreeze and de-icing chemicals can be hazardous. Many types of antifreeze have a sweet taste that can attract animals. Always store antifreeze out of reach and clean up spills. Antifreeze made with propylene glycol can actually be swallowed in small amounts and not injure pets, wildlife or humans.

• Warm automobile engines are dangerous for cats and small wildlife. Parked vehicles can attract small animals, which may crawl under the hood seeking warmth. To avoid injuring hiding animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them off before starting your engine.

For additional information about keeping your pets safe, go to the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART) website at