The temperatures are starting to drop across the U.S. as winter approaches and for many, that means snuggling up inside, drinking hot cocoa, and spending time with friends and family around the holidays. But with about 70 million stray animals living in the U.S., only about six to eight million cats and dogs enter the nation’s 3,500 shelters every year, and that means millions of animals are forced to face the brutal cold winter weather.

The Pennsylvania SPCA is already seeing the consequences of animals left outside in the cold. Last year, they shared a photo of Harriet, a month-old Labrador Retriever Mix who was found outside in the frigid elements by a good Samaritan. They brought the baby to the Pennsylvania SPCA and good thing they did. It’s unlikely Harriet would have lasted much longer out on the cold streets.


Once at the shelter, Harriet was warmed up and now the little one is with a foster family. Harriet will receive frequent feedings over the next few weeks and hopefully, she’ll soon be able to forget her troubled beginnings. 


Please, don’t leave dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops. Dogs and cats get cold, and like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia or frostbite. If it is below freezing, keep walks short and consider a sweater or jacket for short-haired dogs – if they are comfortable wearing them.

No matter what the temperature is, windchill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage. For tips on winter safety for our furry friends, click here.

If you’d like to support your local shelter or rescue group as they help keep the animals in their care warm and dry, just like Harriet, consider donating bedding and blankets! This will ensure the animals stay warm and cozy while they wait for their forever families. For more ways to help combat pet homelessness, click here.


And be sure to share this important reminder with your friends and family!

Image Source: Pennsylvania SPCA/Facebook